Skip to comments.Origins of 'Cloned' Dog Now in Question
Posted on 12/24/2005 9:40:54 AM PST by NormsRevenge
SEOUL, South Korea - While South Korea's most famous scientist was resigning Friday in disgrace after his university said he faked stem cell research, one of his greatest purported breakthroughs was romping in the snow.
Snuppy, an Afghan hound that researcher Hwang Woo-suk said he cloned, was shown in photographs by South Korean media being led by a handler on a leash through the grounds of Seoul National University's animal hospital, where the dog is now kept.
"Lonely Snuppy after professor Hwang leaves," Yonhap news agency wrote in one photo caption.
Hwang unveiled Snuppy named for Seoul National University puppy in August, claiming to have created the world's first cloned dog. But like his other breakthroughs in stem-cell science, that assertion is now being questioned.
A university panel that had been investigating a May paper in the journal Science on Hwang's stem-cell research said Friday that he had fabricated those results and it was now investigating the claims of the cloned dog as well.
Blood samples related to Snuppy have been sent for DNA testing, the panel said Friday.
Although other animals have been cloned successfully before, applying the technique to a dog had been seen as significant because of the difficulties in working with canine eggs.
Hwang had said his workers used DNA of skin cells taken from the ear of a 3-year-old male Afghan hound to replace the nucleus of unfertilized eggs. Nearly 1,100 embryos were created and transferred to 123 surrogates, but only three pregnancies resulted, Hwang claimed in a paper published in the journal Nature.
Of those, there was one miscarried fetus and two puppies delivered by Caesarean section after 60 days. One died of pneumonia 22 days after birth leaving Snuppy as the sole survivor.
Hwang posed smiling with the dog in his arms when announcing his alleged achievement in August. The dog garnered worldwide fame, with U.S.-based Time magazine later naming it the "most amazing invention" of 2005.
American scientist Gerald Schatten, who collaborated on the project, at the time called Snuppy "a frisky, healthy, normal, rambunctious puppy."
Now some are wondering if Snuppy, now eight months old, was just that.
The journal Nature said this week it is reviewing the paper in light of questions raised about Hwang's other research.
A top international stem-cell researcher also questioned Friday if the dog had really been cloned.
"I think a lot of the community were very impressed with the cloning of a dog and it was a delightful dog but I actually don't think it is a cloned dog now," said Professor Alan Trounson of Australia's Monash University.
Snuppy (R), the first male dog cloned from adult cells by somatic nuclear cell transfer, and a male Afghan hound from which an adult skin cell was taken to clone Snuppy, are seen in this handout photo released in Seoul, August 3, 2005. Man's best friend joined the list of cloned animals as South Korean scientists led by Dr. Woo-Suk Hwang announced on Wednesday they had created the world's first cloned dog from an Afghan hound. EDITORIAL USE ONLY REUTERS/Seoul National University/Handout PICTURES OF THE YEAR 2005
South Korean scientist Woo-Suk Hwang holds Snuppy, the first male dog cloned from adult cells by somatic nuclear cell transfer, during a news conference at the Seoul National University in Seoul in this August 2005 file photo. REUTERS/You Sung-Ho
Ping to cute Afghan hound pix.
Devolution in action.
Cloned Canine Proves Legitimate
Cloned Canine Proves Legitimate
Dr. Woo Suk Hwang has come under fire for fraudulent research, but Snuppy, his cloned pup, stands up to scrutiny
By ALICE PARK AND STELLA KIM
Posted Monday, Jan. 09, 2006
Although South Korean stem cell researcher Woo Suk Hwang has had to admit to serious flaws in his ground-breaking studies on human stem cells, he can still claim credit for one featcreating the world's first cloned dog.
DNA testing of Snuppy, Time's Invention of the Year for 2005, confirmed that he is a genetic copy of Tai, the male Afghan hound whose skin cell Hwang cloned to create the cloned pup. The results were announced on Tuesday by a nine-member panel at Seoul National University (SNU), where Hwang is a professor of veterinary medicine. All of Hwang's work, including Snuppy, has come under question after he was forced to retract a paper on his human embryonic stem cell studies amid allegations that he manipulated data, and had not generated the stem cells as was described in two ground-breaking scientific publications.
These latest results confirm preliminary analysis commissioned by Hwang's teamindependent of the SNU panelthat was released two weeks ago. The university committee, made up of both professors and outside consultants, hired three independent labs, based in Seoul, to conduct the testing, and all confirmed that Snuppy and Tai's nuclear DNA matched. Matching nuclear DNA, however, is only the first step to verifying a clone. Animal cells contain two separate sources of DNAthe nucleus, which provides the core genetic blueprint, and the mitochondria, which adds genes important for generating the energy cells need for important metabolic functions such as respiration. Normally, both egg and sperm add nuclear genes to a new embryo, while mitochondrial DNA can only be passed down as part of the egg's genetic contribution. As a clone, however, Snuppy was created after Tai's nuclear genetic material was inserted into an egg, from another canine donor, whose nucleus had been removed. That egg retained its own mitochondrial DNA, but now had a new set of nuclear genetic instructions. And it was then stimulated to divide and mature into what eventually became Snuppy. Consequently, Snuppy and Tai should have identical nuclear DNA but should not have the same mitochondrial genes. And that's what the testing labs found.
Results from our analysis of 27 markers that allow distinguishing amongst extremely inbred animals, and of mitochondrial sequencing, indicate that Snuppy is a somatic cell clone of Tai, the panel said in its report.
It's a small victory for the beleaguered Hwang, whose discredited studies have left his scientific reputation in shambles, but it does validate his claim that despite significant flaws in the way he conducted some of his studies, he had made some contributions to the field of cloning and stem cell technology.