Researchers in South Korea have produced the first cloned dog – a frisky black-and-white Afghan hound puppy – in a scientifically daunting feat eagerly anticipated by scientists and pet owners alike.
Snuppy – short for Seoul National University Puppy – was grown from an embryo containing DNA from the ear of a male hound selected for his gentle and docile nature, said Woo Suk Hwang, one of the lead researchers.
The 3-month-old puppy was the sole survivor among more than 1,000 cloned embryos that were transferred into surrogate mothers.
Cloning experts were impressed that even one healthy dog was created. Even as teams around the world produced cloned mice, rabbits, pigs, cows, cats and one horse, the eccentricities of the canine reproductive system have made it notoriously difficult to add man’s best friend to that list.
Companies that plan to offer dog-cloning services were quick to herald the achievement, published today in the journal Nature.
“This validates one of the premises of our business,” said Ben Carlson, a spokesman for Genetic Savings &Clone Inc. The Sausalito, Calif., company is storing DNA samples from several hundred dogs in anticipation of producing clones for customers as early as next year.
Scientists have been trying to clone dogs since shortly after the birth of Dolly the sheep, the first animal cloned from an adult, in 1996.
The technique involves harvesting unfertilized eggs from females, removing the genetic material and replacing it with DNA from a donor, usually taken from a skin cell. The manipulated embryo is then implanted into a surrogate mother.
Snuppy was delivered by Caesarean section in late April. A second puppy died of pneumonia 22 days after its birth. The researchers do not think the illness was related to cloning.
Snuppy is healthy and lives in the university’s research facility, Hwang said.
South Korean researcher Woo Suk Hwang holds Snuppy, the first dog clone, Wednesday at Seoul National University.