Ahn Young-joon/AP
The world's first cloned dog, Snuppy, right, looks at his puppies at Seoul National University's
College of Veterinary Medicine in Seoul, South Korea.

First Cloned Dog Now a Dad

September 10, 2008 02:53 PM
by Rachel Balik
Snuppy, an Afghan hound cloned in 2005, is now the father of nine puppies born to two cloned mothers.

Cloned Dog Snuppy is Father of Healthy Litter

A team of researchers led by Lee Byeong-chun has successfully made the first cloned dog, Snuppy, into a proud father. Robin Lovell-Badge, head of developmental genetics at Britain's National Institute for Medical Research, said that while this is the first time a cloned dog has become a parent, other cloned animals have been bred in the past with success. He explained to the Associated Press that “There is some evidence that clones can have defects because of a failure to correctly program some imprinted genes, but most evidence is that once you breed from a cloned animal, everything is back to normal.” 

The puppies’ mothers are also both cloned; two female cloned dogs, Bona and Hope, were artificially inseminated with Snuppy’s sperm. Upon looking at a first ultrasound in April, Lee told the Korea Times that “The second generation of cloned animals used to be malformed, but we have not found any abnormal aspects about the fetuses so far.” One of the 10 puppies has died, but the other nine appear to be healthy and normal. Lee hopes his research will have valuable implications for curing disease and even bolstering the populations of endangered species.

Background: Breakthroughs in dog cloning

Lee may also be interested in whether cloned dogs can produce healthy puppies because the company he works for, RNL Bio, has recently begun cloning people’s pets for money. In August, Lee handed over five cloned pit bull puppies to Bernann McKinney, who wanted to recreate her dead dog, Booger. She initially signed a deal with RNL Bio to pay $150,000 for the cloned puppies, but the company reduced the fee to $50,000 in exchange for McKinney’s willingness to participate in the publicity efforts promoting awareness about the births.

Although Booger was the first dog cloned commercially, RNL Bio was also responsible for the first cloned dog in 2005, new dad Snuppy. Snuppy was cloned by Lee and his then partner, Hwang Woo-suk, at Seoul National University.

Related Topic: Puppy patent rights

Lee’s partner in cloning Snuppy, Hwang, was fired from SNU because of false data from studies in human embryos and stem cell research. Lee remained at the university and became associated with RNL Bio. Hwang left for a California company, BioArts International, but now he says that the patent for dog cloning belongs to BioArts.

BioArts does hold the license for the type of cloning that was used for Dolly the sheep and it says RNL Bio is not legally permitted to clone dogs. BioArts also seeks to tap into the commercial cloning market, and held an auction in July in which five pet owners would win clones. But Ra Jeong-chan, the head of RNL Bio says, “The two licenses are different and concern two different types of cloning.” He asserts that his company holds the Snuppy patent.

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