Dentist Wants to Clone John Lennon Using His Tooth
Michael Zuk, a dentist from Alberta, Canada who spent more than $31,000 in 2011 to buy a “yellowy, browny tooth with a cavity” that once resided in the mouth of late British rock star John Lennon has revealed his plans for the molar: he wants to clone the ex-Beatle.
Zuk, 51, whose collection of celebrity teeth and dental fillings includes a crown created for Elvis Presley that he purchased a few months after the Lennon tooth, has agreed to allow scientists in the US to “explore the musician’s DNA” using the tooth, which Lennon originally gave to his housekeeper around 50 years ago.
According to a press release, researchers are trying to figure out how to sequence Lennon’s DNA as the first step in a cloning process based on the technique used for the first successfully cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, in 1996. Zuk, however, has reportedly not allowed scientists to begin working on the tooth yet because he’s looking to hire a film crew to record the process for a documentary.
Interestingly, when discussing the effort to clone wooly mammoths from recently discovered remains, the man who led the research group that created Dolly, Ian Wilmut, stated that using that approach is “wildly optimistic.” He explained that cloning is very inefficient (with a success rate in the best of circumstances at only around 5%) with many complex variables, impacted no doubt by the size and condition of the sample (in the case of Lennon’s tooth, small and rotten). Presumably, if it’s that difficult to clone an extinct animal, it would seem at least as hard to clone an extinct human being.
However, in Zuk’s defense, scientists have successfully extracted DNA from an old (as much as 4,000 years old) tooth in the past, so it’s not unheard of. A bigger question, though, is the ethics of using that DNA to conduct cloning experiments with humans.
Ironically, Zuk is a cosmetic dental specialist who’s written extensively about the hazards of celebrity idol worship in books like Snooki Veneers and Confessions of a Former Cosmetic Dentist that criticize traditional methods of cosmetic procedures and their impact on fans who want to look like their favorite stars.
(Sources: The Huffington Post, Blurb.com, The Guardian, PRWeb, TheSpec.com, The Conversation)