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5-Animals: South Korean scientists create world's first cloned dog



                                  PART I
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  South Korean Scientists Create World's First Cloned Dog
SOURCE: Reuters, by Jon Herskovitz
DATE:   4 Aug 2005

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


South Korean Scientists Create World's First Cloned Dog

SEOUL - Man can now reproduce his best friend -- South Korean scientists
announced on Wednesday they had created the world's first cloned dog.

Woo-Suk Hwang and his team of researchers at Seoul National University
made world headlines earlier this year when they created stem cells with
a patient's specific genetic material, derived through cloned embryos.

Now they have cemented their place as leaders in the field by creating
Snuppy, the first dog cloned from adult cells by somatic nuclear cell
transfer. This is the same technique used to create Dolly, the world's
first cloned mammal, and other animals.

Hwang said the breakthrough in cloning dogs may advance work on combating
diseases by therapeutic cloning with stem cells.

"Our research goal is to produce cloned dogs for (studying) the disease
models, not only for humans, but also for animals," Hwang told a press
conference.

Snuppy, short for for Seoul National University puppy, where Hwang's lab
is located, is a male born by caesarean section weighing 530 grams (19
ounces) on April 24 after a normal, full-term pregnancy in a yellow
Labrador surrogate mother.

The second puppy, NT-2, weighed in at 550 grams (19.4 ounces) but died 22
days later from pneumonia. A post-mortem exam showed there were no
anatomical problems with the dog that died.

A total of 1,095 reconstructed embryos were transferred into 123
surrogates to create the two dogs -- an efficiency rate of 1.6 percent.

Both puppies were created from an adult skin cell taken from a male
Afghan hound using somatic cell nuclear transfer. Sheep, mice, cows,
goats, pigs, rabbits, cats, a mule and horse have been cloned in the same way.

The Afghan breed was selected mainly for its size and striking
appearance, researchers said.

"The purpose of this research is to produce research animals, not
domestic pets," the research team said in a statement.

They said the difficulty in producing dog clones "underscores the
importance of responsible regulation of this vital science."


CANINE DIFFICULTY

The scientists believe the ability to clone dogs will help to determine
environmental and genetic contributions to traits of different breeds and
could also help preserve rare species.

Scientist Gerald Schatten, who participated in the study, said cloning
dogs may help scientists study diseases that affect dogs as well as
humans such as cancer and diabetes. Therapeutic stem cell techniques for
diseases could be tested in dogs and then used to treat humans, he said.

"By learning whether it is safe and effective in our (pet) companions, we
may also know whether it is safe and effective for our loved ones", said
Schatten, a medical researcher at the University of Pittsburgh.

Therapeutic cloning involves creating embryos for a supply of stem cells
to be used for research or therapy to develop cures diseases ranging from
diabetes to Parkinson. Stem cells are master cells that can be coaxed to
develop in any cell tissue type in the body.

It has taken scientists longer to clone a dog than other animals because
of the difficulty in producing mature, unfertilised canine eggs in the
laboratory.

Unlike other mammals, dog eggs are released earlier from the ovary than
in other species. Instead of maturing the eggs in the lab, the
researchers overcame the problem by collecting mature eggs from the dogs.

Their achievement is reported in the science journal Nature.

The egg's genetic material was removed and replaced with the nucleus of
the skin cell from a male Afghan hound, then fused to create an embryo,
which was implanted into a surrogate mother at the correct time to
coincide with the embryo development.

Some scientists cautioned there are many unresolved ethical questions
about where the science may lead.

"Techniques that advance our understanding of diseases and their therapy
are to be encouraged but cloning of animals raises many ethical and moral
issues that have still to be properly debated within the profession,"
Freda Scott-Park, President-Elect of the British Veterinary Association
said in a statement.

(With additional reporting by Maggie Fox in Washington)

                                  PART II
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  FACTBOX - How Scientists Create Animal Clones
SOURCE: Reuters
DATE:   4 Aug 2005

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


FACTBOX - How Scientists Create Animal Clones

LONDON - Snuppy, the world's first cloned dog, on Wednesday joined the
list of cloned animals.

Following is a short factbox on cloning.

- The clone is made using an egg from which the nucleus has been removed
and a cell from the animal that is being cloned. Snuppy and other animals
were cloned from an adult cell.

-- In 1997 scientists at Scotland's Roslin Institute announced they had
cloned a sheep named Dolly using DNA from a single adult sheep cell.
Other cloned animals include mice, a cat and a horse.

- Cloning is done by extracting the genetic material from the cell from
the animal that is being cloned and placing it in an egg whose nucleus
has been removed.

- The egg is activated to develop into an embryo.

- The resulting embryo is transferred into a surrogate mother.

- Reproductive cloning creates an identical copy of the animal. Human
reproductive cloning is banned many countries. In March 2005, a divided
UN General Assembly urged governments to ban all human cloning, including
the cloning of human embryos for stem-cell research.

-- Capping four years of contentious debate, the assembly voted 84 to 34,
with 37 abstentions, to approve a nonbinding statement on cloning. The
United States did not play a public role in promoting the statement. But
it had worked behind the scenes, hand-in-hand with US anti-abortion
groups, to obtain a call for a blanket ban on all cloning.

- Therapeutic cloning involves creating very early embryos as a source of
stem cells: master cells that are capable of developing into any cell
type in the body.

-- Stems cells are harvested from the early embryos. Scientists believe
stem cells could be used to cure diseases ranging from Parkinson's to
diabetes.

-- The cells could also be used to treat spinal cord injuries, cancer and
heart disease.

- The European Parliament voted at the end of 2003 to fund research using
stem cells taken from human embryos.


                                  PART III
-------------------------------- GENET-news -------------------------------

TITLE:  Cloned Dog Raises Ethical Questions of its Science
SOURCE: Reuters, by Jon Herskovitz
DATE:   5 Aug 2005

------------------- archive: http://www.genet-info.org/ -------------------


Cloned Dog Raises Ethical Questions of its Science

SEOUL - South Korea's Woo-Suk Hwang has reached the highest peaks of
cloning and stem cell research, but critics say he has taken science onto
a steep and slippery slope and raised alarming questions about
interfering with life.

On Wednesday, Hwang was all smiles as he put on a lab coat and frolicked
with an Afghan hound puppy named Snuppy, the world's first cloned dog,
which he helped create.

The dog was named after Seoul National University, where Hwang's lab has
produced results that have put his team at the forefront of cloning and
stem cell technology.

Because of their reproductive cycle, dogs are considered one of the most
difficult animals in the world to clone.

In May, Hwang's team made the news for research fulfilling one of the
basic promises of cloning technology in stem-cell research -- that a
piece of skin could be taken from a patient to grow stem cells with that
patient's specific genetic material.

The work has made him a national hero in South Korea, where the
government will spend about $43 million to fund new labs for him and help
Hwang set up a worldwide stem cell bank.

The government also commissioned stamps showing the hope of his research,
depicting a human egg, a man in a wheelchair and an image of him rising,
walking and embracing a standing woman.

Hwang has said he is not cloning human embryos, but using eggs harvested
from human females, infusing them with genetic material, to create cells
that can never become human beings.

"I firmly reject the term human cloning," Hwang said in an interview with
Reuters in May. "This is a scientific activity called somatic nuclear
transfer, and in no part does it involve the physiological process of
fertilisation of eggs by sperm."


CULTURE OF LIFE

Critics have mounted to the type of work being performed by Hwang. US
President George W. Bush, has said: "I worry about a world in which
cloning becomes acceptable", and the Catholic Church, has theological qualms.

Bush has worked to limit US funding for stem cell research.

Lee Chang-young, a member of the Bioethics Committee of Catholic Bishops'
Conference of Korea, said using human eggs from women donors was an
affront to the culture of life.

"I urge Dr. Hwang to focus on stem cell research rather than embryonic
studies that involve human eggs," he told Reuters, cautioning: "The more
animals are cloned, the more possibilities there are of creating a cloned
human."

South Korea has banned human cloning, a stand Hwang supports.

But the country sees great promise in being identified as the global hub
of therapeutic cloning, which involves creating embryos for a supply of
stem cells for research or therapy to develop cures diseases ranging from
diabetes to Parkinson's.

Even though the country has one of the highest percentage of Christians
of any Asian country, the conservative Christian vote is not a major
factor in elections, as it is in places such as parts of the United States.

Stem cells are master cells that can be coaxed to develop in any cell
tissue type in the body.

Hwang and his team said the process to produce Snuppy -- involving a
total of 1,095 reconstructed embryos being transferred into 123
surrogates to create two living dogs -- shows just how difficult it is to
conduct reproductive cloning.

He said the efficiency rate was just 1.6 percent and the other cloned dog
died 22 days after birth from pneumonia.

Gerald Schatten, a University of Pittsburgh genetics expert who was part
of the team that produced Snuppy, said the moral and ethical costs of
producing a human clone were far too high.

"We call for a worldwide ban on human reproductive cloning, which is also
unethical," he told a news conference with Hwang on Wednesday.

(Additional reporting by Kim Yoo-chul)





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