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Cloned animals often suffer from developmental abnormalities, which can be caused by faulty imprinting - the process in which only one parent’s version of a particular gene is activated.

But a group of Japanese researchers led by Kimiko Inoue have found that mice cloned from somatic cells - cells that aren’t egg or sperm cells, and don’t pass on genes to the next generation - don’t show signs of genetic imprinting abnormalities.

This suggests that the cloning process itself may not be to blame for faulty imprinting. Inoue and colleagues say that imprinting abnormalities in previous mouse clones, many of which were cloned using embryonic stem cells, may be the result of mutations accumulated in the stem cells during their time in laboratory cultures.

Reference: Science 295, 297 (2002)