World's first cloned dog

Last updated at 07:44 04 August 2005

An Afghan hound called Snuppy is the first dog ever to be cloned by scientists.

Snuppy was delivered from his Labrador surrogate mother by Caesarean section after 60 days of pregnancy.

The pup was created in South Korea, by taking material from his genetic father's ear and placed into an empty egg.

His name stands for Seoul National University puppy, after the cloning centre where he was created.

The cloning team led by Professor Woo Suk Hwang, obtained only three pregnancies from more than 1,000 embryo trasfers into 123 dogs. The first dog miscarried, and the second pup died of pneumonia after 22 days.

His birth follows the first cloned cat named CopyCat in 2002. A US company now offers pet owners the opportunity to clone their cats for $50,000 (£26,000).

But an American member of the dog cloning team, Dr Gerald Scatten from Pittsburgh University, said: "We are not in the business of cloning pets. Nuclear transfer is an extraordinary tool for scientific and medical research. It has never been about reproductive medicine or making any members of our family - even our pets."

Cloning dogs is more difficult than cloning other mammals because the eggs are released from the ovary earlier on.

The main purpose of cloning is to get stem cells from embryos that can potentially become any kind of body tissue, and may revolutionise medicine.

Domestic dogs have a wide variety of breeds which suffer from different diseases and disorders, some of which closely mirror those in humans.

Dr Schatten hopes the research will help scientists learn more about the root causes of disease in dogs and humans alike.

The technique used to make Snuppy was the same as that which created Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal. Professor Ian Wilmut, who led the Dolly team, congratulated Professor Hwang on his achievement.

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