UK cloning contest seeks worthiest dog

CANINE COPIES: MissyToo and Mira, clones from the same dog, were cloned for businessman Lou Hawthorne by Sooam Biotech Research Foundation. Last week, the firm launched a contest with a cloned dog as a prize.


    Oct 31, 2013

    UK cloning contest seeks worthiest dog


    WOULD you like to win a cloned dog? Dozens of people in Britain would, judging from the response to a contest which promises the winner a clone of his dog.

    Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, based in Seoul, launched the competition last week to promote its dog-cloning service in Britain.

    On the contest's Facebook page, instructions said that dog owners who want to take part should describe what their dog means to them and why they would like it cloned, adding that photos would be "helpful".

    The dateline is Nov 25, but more than 30 applications have already been received, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

    The price tag for a cloned dog by the company - which claims it has already cloned 400 dogs in South Korea and America - is normally US$100,000 (S$123,755).

    The winner will also appear in a documentary produced by Britain's Channel 4, and travel to South Korea for the birth of his puppy or puppies.

    That's right, there may be more than one.

    The institute also hopes to host a similar contest in Japan, company officials told Asahi Shimbun.

    Sooam Biotech is led by Dr Hwang Woo Suk, perhaps best known for reporting fraudulently in 2004 that a team he led had successfully cloned human embryos and stem cells, The New York Times said.

    After the false claims were unearthed, he was fired by Seoul National University, where he did his research as a professor. But he is also widely acknowledged for having been involved in successfully cloning an Afghan hound in 2005.

    The cloning technique involves taking an egg and removing the nucleus, which contains the DNA programme for life.

    The nucleus is then replaced by the nucleus of an adult cell taken from the animal which is to be cloned.

    The reconstructed egg is then cultivated into a cluster of cells big enough to be transplanted into the uterus of a surrogate mother.

    However, the cloned dog would not be exactly the same as the original dog, as factors other than genes can affect the appearance, behaviour and physiology of the animal.

    British papers reported that British scientists have expressed concern over this development.

    Experts warned that cloning remains highly unreliable, with only one or two healthy specimens out of every hundred attempts, The Telegraph reported.