Test Shows Hwang’s Dog Snuppy Was Cloned, But Doubts Remain

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 29, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Test Shows Hwang’s Dog Snuppy Was Cloned, But Doubts Remain Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 29, 2005

Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — A Korean science company has run tests on the dog Snuppy that Hwang Woo-suk’s research team claims to have cloned and it says the dog is the result of a cloning process. Hwang is under fire for fabricating virtually all of his embryonic stem cell research.

However, one scientist says proof about the dog’s origin won’t be known until the official investigation by Seoul National University has concluded.

The Korean institute HumanPass ran tests and determined that Snuppy is the world’s first cloned dog. It said DNA fingerprint tests showed cells from Snuppy matched those of its cell donor, an Afghan hound named Thai.

HumanPass chief executive Rhee Seung-jae told the Korean Times, "This is an indisputable piece of evidence that Snuppy is a clone. I am sure of the results because I myself watched as Hwang’s team extract blood samples from the two dogs."

Rhee said he started the tests Monday at Hwang’s request and conducted the tests three times to make sure the results were the same.

When I informed Hwang of the result today (Wednesday), he said it is the natural outcome. He seemed to have confidence in the dog clone,” Rhee said.

However, Prof. Kong Il-keun at Suncheon University, who cloned six cats last summer, said proof of Snuppy’s origins won’t be known until SNU concludes its probe.

"If HumanPass did not falsify the data, such an outcome is impossible other than for a clone. However, I think Hwang should have waited until the SNU discloses its own probe,” Kong said.

Professor Alan Trounson, a stem cell research scientist at Australia’s Monash University, told the Associated Press last week that 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.

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.