The biotech firm RNL Bio, affiliated with the South Korean lab which produced the world’s first cloned dog, has produced five clones of Booger the Pit Bull for Bernann McKinney, a Californian-based farmer, who has paid $50,000. Booger was rescued by McKinney several years ago and their relationship was cemented when the pit bull rescued her from an attack by another dog. The attack was so ferocious that McKinney nearly lost the use of one arm. During her recovery Booger became her service dog, carrying out everyday activities for McKinney such as opening doors. When Booger developed skin cancer McKinney had skin cells saved in the hope of one day having him "resurrected".
The five puppies, who were born on July 28th 2008, have been named Booger Bernann, Booger Ra, Booger Lee, Booger Hong and Booger Park in honor of the original Booger. Scientists have cloned dogs before for scientific research and government requests, but the process is notoriously difficult, therefore preventing a commercial operation until now. Successful nuclear transfer in dogs has been elusive until now because it is difficult to get egg cells to mature in the lab. The South Korean team got around the problem by using naturally ovulated egg cells – those which have naturally been released from the ovaries into the fallopian tubes.
The original fee for cloning was $150,000, but the company involved, RNL Bio, agreed to cut the price in exchange for help publicizing its work. The company said it was open for bookings and the price should drop as the technology improves.