Germantown synthetic biology company Intrexon Corp. has had a hand in everything from cancer immunotherapy to biological pest control.
Now, it’s ventured into the world of cloning kittens.
That’s right. Intrexon (NYSE: XON) acquired a company last year called ViaGen LC that recently announced it successfully delivered two litters of healthy cloned kittens for the first time.
The Texas-based company specializes in cloning animals for genetic preservation in the livestock and equine industries.
Intrexon convinced ViaGen to pursue the companion animal market, said ViaGen CEO Blake Russell. ViaGen will officially launch that consumer service in January.
“I think the market is quite large,” Russell said.
The cost will initially be $25,000 to get a veterinarian-certified healthy kitten from ViaGen, Russell said. A healthy puppy will be $50,000, although he expects those costs to come down as the technology scales.
To preserve genetic material, the initial fee is $1,600 with a cost of $150 a year for storage after the first year, Russell said.
Serious questions have been raised about the morals and ethics of the pet cloning process.
While the practice was becoming more common in countries such as Korea in 2009, a biotech in the U.S. that had once planned to clone dogs said the technology “was not ready for primetime.” It had seen some problems arise with the health of pet clones and determined the market for them was too small to pursue.