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Animal Cloning: Meet Snuppy,The World's First Cloned Dog

written by: •edited by: Paul Arnold•updated: 9/10/2009

Snuppy, the world's first cloned dog was created by South Korean scientists in 2005. In May 2008 the Afghan hound became a father after a canine breeding programme that involved only cloned canines.

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    Process of Reproductive Cloning

    Snuppy cropped From the moment Snuppy entered the world, the cloned dog was surrounded by controversy. Like other pet cloning and animal cloning attempts it was notoriously inefficient. The scientists used around 2,000 eggs to create 1,000 embryos and out of that only Snuppy survived. Whilst the research team patted themselves on the back, critics of cloning renewed their calls for a worldwide ban on reproductive cloning.

    Despite religious and ethical concerns, the scientists insisted that their work would benefit medical science, possibly with the creation of stem cells to treat serious disorders - as humans and dogs suffer from similar ailments.

    Of course Snuppy was not the first animal clone; before him were Dolly the sheep, CC the cat and Ralph the rat, and several other cloned animals.

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    How to Clone a Dog

    Snuppy was cloned from a cell taken from the ear of a three-year old male Afghan hound. The cell's genetic material was removed and placed inside an empty egg cell, which was stimulated to start dividing and growing. It was then transferred to a surrogate mother, a Labrador.

    Snuppy, which stands for Seoul National University puppy, was born by caesarean section, 60 days later.

    The process was not without its problems and technical difficulties. Out of 1,000 embryos that were created only three pregnancies were achieved. Of these one miscarried, another died shortly after birth and only Snuppy remained.

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    Controversy

    The scientific team was led by Hwang Woo-suk, who was later found to have faked some aspects of his other research. However, independent tests carried out in 2006 confirmed that Snuppy was indeed a clone.

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    Snuppy Becomes a Father

    In May 2008, the world's first cloned dog became a father in a breeding programme led by Lee Byung-chun. Only cloned canines were involved and Snuppy impregnated two Afghan bitches by artificial insemination. 10 puppies were born; one died and the other nine were healthy.

    The team claim that their work will be useful for creating cloned sniffer dogs or guide dogs, that lose their ability to reproduce after being sterilised for training.

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    Photo Credit

    Released into the public domain by Seoul National University