Good Grief Charlie Brown
April 24, 2005: Snuppy Born
Snuppy is an Afghan hound credited with being the world’s first cloned dog. Using a cell from the ear of an adult Afghan and 123 surrogate moms, only 3 produced pups. Of those three, Snuppy was the sole survivor. Snuppy’s name stands for Seoul National University puppy.
Although many other animals have been successfully cloned, dogs are notoriously difficult.
The South Korean team of 45 from Seoul National University, was led by biomedical scientist Hwang Soo-Suk. Although Hwang was found to have lied about some of his research papers, independent investigators confirmed Snuppy was a true clone.
Scientists took the genetic material from the ear cell and placed it into an empty egg cell. This egg was then stimulated to start dividing and develop into an embryo. Once growing, it was transferred to Snuppy’s surrogate mother, a yellow Labrador. The Afghan pup was born by caesarean section after a full 60 days of pregnancy.
The Kennel Club criticized the entire concept of dog cloning, on the grounds that their mission is:
“To promote in every way the general improvement of dogs” and no improvement can occur if replicas are being created.
“Also, will these cloned dogs end up being used in the laboratory? That opens a whole new can of worms.”
Dr Freda Scott-Park, President Elect of the British Veterinary Association, is concerned about the likely reaction of dog lovers.
“This report demonstrates just how fast the world of genetic manipulation is moving and no one should underestimate the far-reaching consequences of this work,” she said. “Sadly however, the media interest is likely to attract pet owners keen to re-create their much loved pets.”
“No one can deny that 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.”
Scientists hope dog clones will help them understand and treat a range of serious human diseases.
“The dog has characteristics similar to human beings,” lead researcher Hwang Woo-Suk told the BBC, “Some of their diseases are almost the same as human diseases.”