December 29, 2005

Focus turns to S.Korean’s cloned dog claim

SEOUL (Reuters) - A South Korean investigation panel
looking into the works of a disgraced scientist said on
Thursday it could not yet reach a conclusion on whether his
team produced the world's first cloned dog.

The same Seoul National University panel dealt a
devastating blow to scientist Hwang Woo-suk, saying there was
no data to back the fundamental claim in a landmark 2005 paper
that Hwang's team had produced the world's first tailored
embryonic stem cells.

A few months after Hwang grabbed headlines with the May
paper on the tailored stem cells, he was back in the spotlight
again. This time it was with an Afghan hound puppy named
Snuppy, which Hwang claimed was the world's first cloned dog.

A DNA testing lab in Seoul said on Thursday it concluded
Snuppy was an actual clone based on blood tests it conducted.

"Our testing indicates Snuppy is a cloned dog," said Lee
Seung-jae, the chief executive of DNA testing lab Humanpass

Lee said by telephone that Hwang had approached the lab in
late November to conduct tests on Snuppy. The lab is not a part
of the investigation into Hwang's work being conducted by the
Seoul National University panel.

But an investigation panel member said separately the
process of verifying a cloned dog is more difficult than it may

Dogs are considered one of the most difficult animals to
clone because of their reproductive cycle.

Snuppy, short for Seoul National University puppy, was born
on April 24 after a normal, full-term pregnancy in a yellow
Labrador surrogate mother.