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This month to mark John Lennon’s anniversary we have interviewed the dentist who has plans to create a clone of the former Beatle. From day to day Dr Michael Zuk’s business is dental implants, veneers and dental braces and as a pastime he likes to collect celebrity teeth. Dr Zuk purchased one of John Lennons’ teeth at auction for £19,500 in 2011 and is now attempting to use it to create a clone of the former Beatle. The story was reported by media during the summer and we checked in with the controversial dentist to see what he has been up to since and found out:
- Dr Zuk is talking to tv production companies about doing a documentary around the first steps of the cloning process
- He believes that the technologies are already available to make human cloning a reality but some glitches need fixing first
- Dr Zuk predicts a cloned John Lennon could be a reality by 2040
- He has acquired Elvis Preistly’s crown and believes that Elvis could be cloned also.
Teethwise: Hello Dr Zuk, last we heard you had sent John Lennon’s tooth to a lab to have its DNA code extracted. How have things progressed over the last few months?
Dr Zuk: I have been talking to a film production company who are interested in creating a documentary around the early stages of the process. Once this is arranged we will start the sequencing.
Teethwise: Realistically, do you think it is possible to clone humans from their teeth?
Dr Zuk: The technology is out there. Researchers have successfully extracted DNA from the pulp of a 4,000 year old mummy. Once the DNA has been extracted a clone could be created using the same processes as were used to clone Dolly the Sheep.
Nobel Prize winner, Sir John Gurdon successfully cloned frogs in the 50′s and he believes that human cloning could be a reality within 50 years. In the 60′s he predicted scientists would clone a mammal within 50 years and he was right, Dolly the Sheep was cloned in 1996.
Teethwise: What do you think is stopping it from happening now?
Dr Zuk: Legally, it is not a problem, if something is illegal in one country its a matter of crossing a border. Animal cloning still has some glitches they are working out but they are already cloning species. Once the glitches are worked out humans will follow. There are people in history that everyone is fixated over…JFK, Martin Luther King, Marilyn…it will be possible…and because of this, like the nuclear bomb it will be happen.
Teethwise: How did you come across the tooth?
I bought it at an auction over 2 years ago for £19,500. The tooth had been give by Lennon to his housekeeper Dot Jarlett in the 60s. Jarlett passed it down to her son who had hung onto it over the years before auctioning it. I saw online that it was for sale and bought it. I think collecting celebrity DNA will be insane in the future as it creates a risk for celebs to have surprise offspring/claims.
Teethwise: When do you think we can expect to see a cloned John Lennon?
Dr Zuk: I would estimate that everything will be in place to complete by the procedure by 2040. This would mark the stars 100th birthday if he were still alive.
Teethwise: Times have changed in the 50 years since the Beatles released their first hit Love Me Do. Do you think that a clone of John Lennon would be as successful?
Dr Zuk: That’s a good question. John would be cloned from his DNA which creates the body and hardware for the brain. What goes on in his brain would be largely be down to his environment. John’s personality and cultural tastes were formed from his upbringing in 40s and 50s Liverpool so this would obviously be different. Even during his lifetime his musical style changed.
The musical ability in his DNA is undoubted so we would aim to create an environment for the child where this ability would be nurtured and allowed to develop.
Teethwise: A cloned John Lennon would attract a massive amount of media interest. Do you think it’s fair to have a human being created with such expectation and media attention?
Dr Zuk: Yes. I agree it could be a little unfair. Whilst some elements of the cloning process would be publicised, it is likely the identity of the child would not initially be disclosed publicly.
TeethWise: Do you have plans to clone any other dead musicians?
Dr Zuk: Not at the moment. Last year I bought a crown made for Elvis Priestly (or the King’s Crown) but it is only a crown and not his actual tooth. His DNA is likely within the cast of his mouth that I have but also Elvis was sequenced by another group last year so it may be ready to go already.
So there you have it. Far fetched as it may seem Dr Michael Zuk is pressing on with his plans to clone John Lennon and believes he will be able to do so by 2040. For more information see wwww.johnlennontooth.com.