15 February 2008

$150,000 for Cloned Dog

A Californian dog-lover has agreed to pay $150,000 to have her dead pit bull recreated in the world’s first commercial pet cloning project. The dog, named Booger, died a year and a half ago but his owner kept part of his ear in cold storage and South Korean scientists will now attempt to create an exact replica of the pet.

RNL Bio, based in Seoul, said it is already working on the order. The work will be carried out by a team of Seoul National University (SNU) scientists led by professor Lee Byeong-chun, a key member of disgraced stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk's research team. Most of Hwang's well publicised breakthroughs in cloning human stem cells were discovered to be fake last year. But the SNU team was successful in creating the world's first dog clone, an Afghan hound named "Snuppy".

Cho Seong-Ryul, RNL’s marketing director, said the company’s success rate for producing dogs by cloning was high with around one out of every four surrogate mother dogs producing cloned puppies. Cells have been extracted from Booger’s ear tissue and inserted into ova which were then implanted into eight bitches. Since Lee and Hwang cloned Snuppy no other scientists have succeeded in creating cloned dogs.

“This will mark the first time that a dog is being cloned in a commercial contract,” Cho said. “The cost for cloning a dog may come down to less than $50,000 as cloning is becoming an industry.”

[Source: Times Online]