First Dog Cloned in South Korea

This week Nature magazine reports that scientists at Seoul National University have produced the first dog clones. The surviving 16 week old puppy is an Afghan hound called Snuppy.

Snuppy joins a group of other cloned domestic animals including Dolly the sheep, CC the cat and Ralph the rat. Scientists hope animal clones will help them understand and treat a range of serious human diseases. In particular, the dog has many genetic characteristics that are similar to humans, and is easier to clone than primates.?

Since some diseases found in dogs are almost the same as those found in humans, scientists believe dog clones could be very valuable in finding technologies useful for curing human diseases. Snuppy, whose name stands for Seoul National University puppy, was made from a cell taken from the ear of a three-year-old male Afghan hound.??

Scientists took the genetic material from the ear cell and placed it into an empty egg cell. This egg was then stimulated to start dividing and develop into an embryo. Once growing, it was transferred to Snuppy’s surrogate mother, a yellow labrador. The Afghan pup was born by caesarean section after a full 60 days of pregnancy. Although many other animals have been successfully cloned, dogs are notoriously difficult: the South Korean team only obtained three pregnancies from more than 1,000 embryo transfers into 123 recipients.?

As was the case when the first cat was cloned, the scientific breakthrough delivers a mixed reaction amongst members of the public. Many are concerned about the ethical implications of such developments, while other look forward to being able to clone their own pets. Such advances in technology have already spawned businesses offering to clone pet cats from $30,000.

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