by Steven Ertelt
August 4, 2005
Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — Embryonic stem cell research scientist Hwang Woo-suk has already cloned a human embryo, though he didn’t allow the embryo to go through a normal pregnancy to be born. Now, he’s the first researcher to use cloning processes to create a dog.
Hwang’s team has created Snuppy, an Afghan hound now 14 weeks of age.
Gerald Schatten, of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and a colleague of Hwang, called the dog "a frisky, healthy, normal, rambunctious puppy."
Hwang’s goal isn’t to produce canines in an already overpopulated animal world, but rather to create research models to test cures for various diseases. While the DNA structure of a monkey is closer to that of humans, Hwang told the Associated Press, "that cloning a monkey "is technically impossible at the moment."
"Dogs share physiological characteristics with humans," Hwang told reporters in Seoul. "A lot of diseases that occur in dogs can be directly transferred to humans."
Despite claims of success, Snuppy, named after Seoul National University where Hwang’s lab is based, was born after many failures.
Snuppy was the lone success of more than 1000 dog embryos implanted into 100 dogs. Opponents of human cloning worry that scientists like Hwang will eventually take the practice to human and destroys thousands of human lives in the process.
The first cloned mammal was Dolly the sheep.
Dolly was finally created after 300 failed attempts, resulting in miscarriages and malformed offspring. Ultimately, the "successful" result, Dolly, aged too rapidly and had to be euthanized.
David Stevens, MD, director of the Christian Medical Association, says supporters of Hwang need to know from the failures of animal cloning that human cloning will result in the deaths of hundreds of tiny unborn human beings every time it is attempted.
"We know from animal cloning that the technical problems and dangers associated with cloning will never produce therapies that these researchers speculate could be applied to human beings," Dr. Stevens explained.
Lee Chang-young, a member of the Bioethics Committee of Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea, agreed.
I urge Dr. Hwang to focus on stem cell research rather than embryonic studies that involve human eggs," he told Reuters, cautioning: "The more animals are cloned, the more possibilities there are of creating a cloned human."
Hwang and Schatten say they back a ban on reproductive human cloning and though the United Nation’s backed a statement calling for a ban on all human cloning, some countries and researchers like Hwang and Schatten want to be able to use so-called therapeutic cloning to create human embryos for research.
Hwang’s team has reported their dog cloning efforts to the scientific journal Nature.