But can they create a clone of a clone?
On August 5, an American woman received her five purchased pitbull puppy clones at South Korea’s Seoul National University Hospital for Animals. Bernann McKinney paid the firm $50,000 for the five dogs from RNL Bio, reported as the world’s first successful commercial dog cloning business.
She earlier asked U.S.-based Genetics Savings and Clone to clone her dog, but the company shut its doors in late 2006 because of a lack of demand and its failure at producing any canine clones.
A team of scientists from Seoul National University, the group that created the world’s first cloned dog in 2005, worked in cooperation with RNL Bio to produce the cloned animals. Testing is currently being conducted to confirm that the puppies are genuine clones.
The team of scientists working for RNL Bio is headed by Lee Byeong-chun, a former colleague of disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who scandalized the international scientific community when his purported breakthroughs in cloned stem cells were revealed as fake in 2005.
Independent tests confirmed the 2005 dog cloning was genuine, and Lee’s team has since cloned more than 20 canines.
But RNL Bio said its cloning was the first successful commercial cloning of a canine.
RNL Bio charges up to $150,000 for dog cloning but will receive just a third of that sum from McKinney because she is the first customer and helped with publicity, said company head Ra Jeong-chan.
Ra said his firm eventually aims to clone about 300 dogs per year and is also interested in duplicating camels for customers in the Middle East.