Snuppy, the world’s first cloned dog, died in 2015, but his genetic heritage still lives on. Like National Post reports, South Korean scientists recently described in the journal Scientific reports the birth of three clone puppies, all of which are identical replicas of the famous Afghan hound.
Those who survived the 1990s might remember Dolly, a Scottish sheep that gained fame as the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell. After cloning Dolly in 1996, scientists were able to replicate other animals, including cats, mice, cows and horses. But cloning dogs initially embarrassed scientists, Time reports because their rearing period is limited and their eggs are also difficult to extract.
Finally, the researchers eventually used nuclear somatic cell transfer (SCNT) to clone the dog, the same method used to make Dolly. In the early 2000s, a team of South Korean scientists inserted DNA collected from the skin cells of an Afghan hound into the egg of a dog from which DNA was removed. The egg split, giving more cloned embryos.
Scientists implanted 1,095 of these embryos in 123 dogs, a comprehensive initiative that yielded only three pregnancies, according to the NPR. Of these, only Snuppy survived – whose name is a combination of “puppy” and the initials of the National University of Seoul.
Snuppy died of cancer in April 2015, just after his 10th birthday. To celebrate his successful life, the same South Korean researchers decided to clone him again using mesenchymal stem cells from dog fat on his stomach, which were taken when he was five years old. This time they transferred 94 reconstructed embryos to seven dogs. Four clones were later born, although one eventually died shortly after birth.
Tiny Snuppy clones are more than a year old, and researchers say they don’t think cubs face the risk of accelerated aging, nor are they more prone to disease than other dogs. (Dolly died when she was only six years old, while cloned mice also experienced a shorter lifespan.) Snuppy’s somatic cell donor, Tai, lived only two years longer than Snuppy, dying at the age of 12, which is the average lifespan. an Afghan hound.
Researchers say this new generation of Snuppys will bring new insights into the health and longevity of cloned animals. Meanwhile, in other news about animal cloning, a Texas-based company called ViaGen Pets is now offering to clone people’s favorite pets, according to CBS Pittsburgh – a service that costs a cool $ 50,000 for dogs.
[h/t National Post]