September 24, 2012 – A San Francisco researcher has developed the first trouble-free human cloning technique, promising to make replication of famous people as routine as downloading movies. To market the new methodology, which applies the emerging field of epigenetics, experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats is launching a company that will duplicate some of the most well-known figures in history, including George Washington, Queen Elizabeth I, and Jesus Christ. The operation is so noninvasive that none of their bodies have been exhumed, nor have their descendants been notified.
"We're doing it entirely with historical data harvested from online archives," says Mr. Keats. "That and some chemicals bought over-the-counter at Walgreens."
Conventional genetic cloning is technically problematic because cloners rely on antiquated genetic concepts. But in recent years biologists have learned that the genes you inherit do not determine who you become. "What matters is which genes are expressed," explains Mr. Keats, "and gene expression depends on your environment." Epigenetics takes into account environmental factors including diet, stress, and exposure to toxins. The pioneering field of epigenetic cloning evaluates these factors and replicates them.
To validate his technique, Mr. Keats has already set up pilot studies at the Center for Epigenetic Cloning, a research laboratory he opened in New York City early this September. Metabolically analyzing living celebrities by assessing their gross biochemical intake as reported in leading gossip magazines, he has methodically exposed large populations of live cells to the same chemical formulae, systematically activating epigenetic mechanisms such as histone modification and DNA methylation.
"The easiest way to grasp the technique is to think of twins," Mr. Keats says. "As they age, identical twins diverge in appearance due to epigenetic drift. We're doing the opposite, compelling genetically distinct organisms to converge by applying intense epigenetic force." While the organisms Mr. Keats has worked with so far aren't human, they are known to be genetically and metabolically similar to Homo sapiens, and have been used in medical studies for decades. "We've been epigenetically cloning Lady Gaga and Barack Obama in Saccharomyces cerevisiae," says Mr. Keats. "It's an organism more commonly known as brewer's yeast."
Saccharomyces cerevisiae is popular in laboratories because of its rapid lifecycle. Over the course of six weeks, populations of yeast cells are expected to take on epigenetic traits of the five target celebrities. "These clones won't physically look like microscopic Gagas and Obamas," Mr. Keats admits. "But epigenetics tells us that the yeast should become the same as them at a functional level."
In anticipation of this simultaneous breakthrough in science and culture, Mr. Keats will launch his for-profit Epigenetic Cloning Agency at Modernism Gallery in San Francisco on October 11th. The agency will adapt his techniques to facilitate human-to-human epigenetic cloning for the first time ever. Through interventions such as systematic alteration of diet, concentrated exposure to select pollutants, and electrical stimulation of emotional crises, clients will have the unprecedented opportunity to become the figures they most admire.
"Potentially we can clone anybody who ever lived," claims Mr. Keats. "We can bring them back from the dead, and I don't just mean like a one-time Tupac hologram." To promote the widest possible use of epigenetic cloning, he has made all of the technology open source, and is inviting collaborations from institutions including UNESCO and the Pirate Bay. He is also designing a low-cost kit to epigenetically clone himself, though he cautions that the consequences of using it will be beyond his control: "My clones will each have a will of their own."
A special launch event for the Epigenetic Cloning Agency will be held in San Francisco on Thursday, October 11th from 5:30 to 8:00 at Modernism Gallery, 685 Market St., San Francisco, CA. More information: www.modernisminc.com. The Epigenetic Cloning Laboratory can be visited through October 27th at the AC Institute, a nonprofit arts organization located at 547 W. 27th St., 2nd Floor, in New York City. More information: www.artcurrents.org. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org