Scientists for the first time have cloned a dog. But don't count on a better world populated by identical, well-behaved canines just yet.
That's because the dog duplicated by South Korea's cloning pioneer, Hwang Woo-suk, is an Afghan hound, a resplendent supermodel in a world of mutts, but ranked by dog trainers as the least companionable and most indifferent among the hundreds of canine breeds.
The experiment extends the remarkable string of laboratory successes by Hwang, but also re-ignites a fierce ethical and scientific debate about the rapidly advancing technology.
Last year, Hwang's team created the world's first cloned human embryos. In May, they created the first embryonic stem cells that genetically match injured or sick patients.
Researchers nicknamed their cloned pal Snuppy, which is shorthand for "Seoul National University puppy." One of the dog's co-creators, Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, describes their creation, now 14 weeks old, as "a frisky, healthy, normal, rambunctious puppy."
Researchers congratulated the Korean team on improving techniques that might someday be medically useful. Others, including the cloner of Dolly the sheep, renewed their demand for a worldwide ban on human reproductive cloning.
"Successful cloning of an increasing number of species confirms the general impression that it would be possible to clone any mammalian species, including humans," said Ian Wilmut, a reproductive biologist at the University of Edinburgh, who produced Dolly nearly a decade ago.
Since then, researchers have cloned cats, goats, cows, mice, pigs, rabbits, horses, deer, mules and gaur, a large wild ox of Southeast Asia.
Uncertainties about the health and life span of cloned animals persist; Dolly died prematurely in 2003 after developing cancer and arthritis.
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