S. Korean firm offers to clone dogs

Updated: 2008-02-16 09:55

SEOUL - A South Korean firm is offering to clone pet dogs in cooperation with the scientists who created the world's first cloned canine, the company said on Friday.

Seoul-based RNL Bio said it is already working on its first order from an American woman who wants a clone of her dead pit bull. She was especially attached to it because it saved her life when another dog attacked her and bit off her arm.

The client, Bernann McKunney of California, provided the firm with ear tissue from the dead dog, which she had taken and preserved at a US biotech firm before the dog died 18 months ago, company spokesman Kim Yoon said.

The chances of successfully creating a clone are about 25 percent, Kim said. The firm is charging $150,000 for the clones, which clients have to pay only after they receive a new pet.

The company's cloning team is being led by Seoul National University professor Lee Byeong-chun, a key member of disgraced stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk's research team.

Most of Hwang's purported breakthroughs in cloning human stem cells were found to be fake. But the team was found to have successfully created the world's first dog clone, an Afghan hound named "Snuppy".

Lee was the main scientist leading the dog cloning. He later cloned more dogs and succeeded in cloning a wolf. Kim, the company spokesman, said no other scientists elsewhere had succeeded in creating cloned dogs.

RNL Bio plans to eventually focus on cloning not only pets, but also special dogs like those trained to sniff out bombs.

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