Aug. 5, 2008
Five puppy clones of the deceased pit bull Booger were born July 28 and publicly unveiled today (requisite cute puppy pictures at above link, and also here.) Bernann McKinney of California paid the South Korean biotech firm RNL Bio $50,000 (a discount price from the usual $150,000) to clone her beloved dog. In cloning (technically termed "somatic cell nuclear transfer", SCNT) the nucleus (DNA) of a body tissue cell is transferred into an egg (that has had its chromosomes removed), creating a new cloned embryo. The clones are then transferred to the womb of a surrogate mother for gestation.
Dogs have been cloned before, but these are the first commercial clones. RNL has been in a patent dispute with another dog cloning firm in the U.S. RNL was started by South Korean scientists who had worked with the cloning fraudster Hwang; Hwang (who was recently denied an application to clone humans) is the hired cloner of the U.S. firm. As a commercial cloning operation, RNL has had some orders for dog cloning, but still is searching for a big commercial payoff. Its CEO, Ra Jeong-Chan, says "For my next project, I will consider cloning camels for rich people in the Middle East."