After Stem Cell Research Probe, Origins of Cloned Dog Now Questioned

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 23, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

After Stem Cell Research Probe, Origins of Cloned Dog Now Questioned Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 23, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Now that a Seoul National University probe has confirmed that disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk fabricated his embryonic stem cell research, observers are questioning whether his claims to have cloned a dog are false too.

In August, Hwang’s team claimed to have successfully cloned an Afghan hound it named Snuppy — combining the name of the college and the word "puppy."

Photographs of Snuppy appeared in South Korean newspapers on Friday along with news stories about Hwang’s fake embryonic stem cells. The photos showed handled walking the dog on the university’s grounds near an animal hospital, where it is kept.

Like his other assertions, Hwang’s claim to have created the world’s first cloned dog is coming under question.

Professor Alan Trounson, a stem cell research scientists at Australia’s Monash University, told the Associated Press the Snuppy claims are "very much in doubt now."

"I think a lot of the community were very impressed with the cloning of a dog — and it was a delightful dog — but I actually don’t think it is a cloned dog now," Trounson said.

The journal Nature, which published he report from Hwang’s team about Snuppy, is reviewing the paper to see if the results are authentic.

The SNU panel that found Hwang falsified his embryonic stem cell research is now looking at other studies, including the creation of Snuppy. The panel said Friday that blood samples from Snuppy have been sent to a laboratory for DNA testing.

Snuppy wasn’t a complete success when his creation was announced. Hwang said his research team used DNA from skin cells from the ear of a three year-old Afghan hound to make him.

However, nearly 1,100 dog embryos were created and transferred to 123 surrogate female dogs. Ultimately, only three pregnancies resulted, according to Hwang, with one dying as a result of a miscarriage and another dying 22 days after birth from pneumonia.

That alarms pro-life groups who say similar results in human cloning would result int he deaths of tens of thousands of unborn children in failed attempts to clone a human being.

Some other animals have been cloned, with mixed results. Most notably, British researchers cloned Dolly the sheep, the first mammal ever cloned. Hundreds of unborn sheep died in the process and Dolly eventually had to be euthanized because of problems stemming from the cloning process.