South Korea University Investigating Errors Found in Wolf Cloning Paper

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 9, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Korea University Investigating Errors Found in Wolf Cloning Paper Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 9
, 2007

Seoul, South Korea ( — A South Korea university says it is investigating the papers associated with the recent cloning of wolves there. Scientists in the Asian nation unveiled the first cloned wolves last month, although hundreds of unborn wolves died in the process of creating it.

With the international scandal that developed after researchers at Seoul National University wrote two fraudulent papers claiming major advances in embryonic stem cell research, SNU officials aren’t taking any chances.

The college said Monday that it is investigating some minor errors associated with the cloning report the scientists filed.

Led by veterinary professors Lee Byung-Chun and Shin Nam-Shik, the teams cloned two female wolves named Snuwolf and Snuwolffy in October 2005 but didn’t announce them until last month because of the embryonic stem cell research scandal.

Lee was also a member of the team that worked with disgraced cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk to produce Snuppy, the world’s first cloned dog.

The paper Lee wrote on behalf of the team was found to have a mathematical mistake in calculating the success rate of cloning the wolves, according to an AFP report. The paper erroneously raised the success rate making it appear fewer wolf embryos died to produce the final two cloned wolves

Lee told AFP the mistake was an honest one and that he had already asked the medical journal Cloning and Stem Cells, which published the paper, to correct the data.

The failure rate associated with cloning the wolves is important because it brings forth concerns about human cloning.

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. That high failure rate was also seen in cloning the dogs and cloning Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal.

Pro-life advocates say that shows how human cloning will likely result in the destruction of hundreds, if not thousands, of human lives.

China’s Yonhap news agency also reported that there were also suspicious that the research team gave wrong details about some of the DNA science behind cloning the wolves.

SNU came under fire over the last 18 months when its scientists — led by Hwang — 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.