Monday, May 5, 2008

To clone or not to clone?

Dear Readers,
With sci-fi fiction and fantasy books making an all-time high in popular culture nowadays, we thought you might be interested to hear about the latest scientific research that could affect your pets. The following article represents a breakthrough in modern technology, and is from the News24 website if you wish to pursue the topic further. Enjoy!

Seoul - A South Korean biotech company is offering dog owners the chance to
clone their pet through a service that can cost up to $148 000 (R1.1m) for
a puppy.
RNL Bio, affiliated with the South Korean lab that produced the
world's first cloned canine, expects to deliver its first cloned dog in about a
year to a US woman in her 50s who saved biological material from her beloved pit
bull that recently died.
"These days, dogs are treated like family members.
There are many owners who would rather clone a favourite pet than adopt a new
one after it dies," said RNL Bio President Ra Jeong-chan.
RNL Bio is
affiliated with the team at Seoul National University (SNU) that produced the
world's first cloned dog, which has been verified through independent testing.
The same SNU lab has been implicated in a scandal for deliberately
fabricating data in separate studies on human embryonic stem cells.
expects it can clone about 30 pet dogs a year at present and increase that
number to about 200 by 2010, with costs going down as the cloning technology
increases in efficiency, Ra said.
Costs will drop
Lee Byeong-chun, the
Seoul National University professor who has led previous canine cloning
projects, said of the partnership: "Within one or two years, we will see costs
drop to a reasonable level."
Dogs are considered one of the most difficult
mammals to clone because of their unpredictable reproductive cycle as well as
difficulties in inducing ovulation and fertilising eggs in the lab.
RNL and
the university lab have also teamed up to clone drug-sniffing dogs, seeing-eye
dogs and other types of dogs used by governments and charities at a much cheaper
rate than for pet owners, they said.
The Korea Customs Service said it has
signed a memorandum of understanding with the team for cloning drug-sniffing
The SNU lab was once led by disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who is
now standing trial on charges of fraud, embezzlement and violating the country's
bioethics laws.

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