Elvis clone mice are just rumors...for now

Elvis clone mice are just rumors...for now

Many of us born after 1970 mourn, among other things, never getting to see Elvis perform. Perhaps that’s why earlier this week bloggers began excitedly reporting that artist Koby Barhad had used DNA taken from Elvis’ hair to clone Elvis mice. Elvis mice! In 21 mouse years would they suddenly begin composing “Heartbreak Hotel?”

The sites (here, and here, among others) reported that Barhad—artist, not scientist—was able to engineer these celebrity rodents using only three Internet services:

  • Elvis hair purchased on eBay (always reliable)
  • Gene sequencing technology from Genetrack Biolabs
  • A mouse cloning laboratory called InGenious Targeting.

Unfortunately what bloggers didn’t notice was that Barhad hasn’t actually cloned anything from the Elvis hair yet. The project is still in the planning and testing phases, reports MSNBC Cosmic Log’s Alan Boyle. Wishful thinking bites again.

According to Boyle, Barhad is currently conducting tests on one gene (a variant of the human ACTN3) thought to contribute to athleticism. So far Barhad has identified DNA tests that seem to accurately determine the existence of that gene. His next step will be to engineer mice with it. The final step would be to do the same for some of the genes taken from the eBay hair.

In interviews with Boyle and with Wired’s Ian Steadman, Barhad stated that his main focus for the genetic engineering art project is to bring forward the questions we all have about the moral, ethical and legal implications of genetic engineering, showing us that although he may be playing with science, his ultimate goals are artistic ones.

When he finally completes his Elvis mice, he plans to display them in a series of rooms that represent different aspects and phases of Elvis’ life. For example, since fame inflated and distorted Elvis’ ego, Barhad wants to create a room with a funhouse mirror, inflating and distorting the Elvis mouse’s image.

Boyle made a follow-up call to Barhad Thursday morning, and strangely, Barhad said that his real goal is not to make an Elvis mouse-clone, but a mouse-clone of his very own self using his very own DNA.

Well, now whose ego needs a funhouse mirror?