by Steven Ertelt
March 26, 2007
Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — Scientists at the university that was the site of an international scandal over faked embryonic stem cell research have now cloned the first wolves. Researchers at Seoul National University, which produced the world’s first cloned dog, say they have now cloned a wolf, though hundreds died in the process.
SNU came under fire over the last 18 months when its scientists — led by disgraced researcher Hwang Woo-suk — published fraudulent articles on embryonic stem cell research.
The papers claimed the team had been able to clone a human embryo and created patient-specific embryonic stem cells that could overcome problems embryonic stem cell research has had in helping patients.
Neither claim was true and several scientists were fired in the wake of the scandal.
However, the team was able to successfully clone an Afghan hound named Snuppy and the cloning of two wolves, named Snuwolf and Snuwolff follows on the heels of that.
The wolves were actually cloned a year and a half ago but news about them didn’t break because of the stem cell scandal.
The wolf cloning wasn’t entirely successful as scientists had to transfer 251 wolf embryos into 12 potential surrogate mothers before achieving the birth of a cloned wolf. Pro-life advocates say that shows how human cloning will likely result in the destruction of hundreds, if not thousands, of human lives.
Lee Byung-chun, a professor who now heads the research team, told Reuters the scandal prevented them from making the announcement and also held up publication of papers on the animal cloning.
"Normally, scientific periodicals would not ask for mitochondrial DNA verification but we needed to produce it due to previous problems," he said.
After getting sufficient proof of the wolf cloning, the quarterly periodical "Cloning and Stem Cells" has agreed to publish their paper about it.
Lee told Reuters the cloning would help the wolves survive as they haven’t been seen in the wild in the Asian nation in more than 20 years. The only ones known to live in South Korea reside at a nature park.