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Scientists announce fluorescent dog clones

South Korean scientists have finally announced what they pulled off almost 18 months ago — the births of four cloned beagles that glow red under ultraviolet light.

All named  “Ruppy” — a combination of the words “ruby” and “puppy” — the dogs are pups no more, as you can see in a photo I took in February during my visit to Seoul National University, where Snuppy, the world’s first dog clone, was born in 2005.

Seoul National University professor Lee Byeong-chun, head of the research team, says they are the world’s first transgenic cloned dogs.

The fluorescence serves no purpose — other than letting the scientists know that the modified genes they inserted during the cloning process were successfully transferred.

“What’s significant in this work is not the dogs expressing red colors but that we planted genes into them,” Lee told the Associated Press Tuesday.

Successfully cloning dogs with flourescent genes paves the way to implanting disease-related genes into dogs, which will allow scientists to study and develop cures for human diseases.

The achievement was first publicized earlier this month in a paper on the website of the journal “Genesis.”

The fluorescence is noticeable, even when the dogs aren’t under ultraviolet light. The Ruppy I met and photographed had pinkish skin around his nose, and pink claws.

Scientists in the U.S., Japan and in Europe have cloned fluorescent mice and pigs, but SNU’s achievement is the first time dogs with modified genes have been cloned successfully, Lee said.

He said his team took skin cells from a beagle, inserted fluorescent genes into them and put them into enucleated eggs cells from a surrogate mother dog. Those were implanted into the womb of the surrogate mother, a local mixed breed. Six cloned flourescent female beagles were born in December 2007, two of which died.

Lee said his team has already started to implant human disease-related genes during the cloning process, in hopes they will be able to discover treatments for genetic diseases such as Parkinson’s.


Comment from bluhawkk
Time April 29, 2009 at 11:37 am

I’m sorry but….UGH!

Comment from Anne-n-Spencer
Time April 29, 2009 at 3:32 pm

I know they’re valuable scientific dogs, but I hope they still get lots of that much-needed Beagle love, and I hope they get to hang out with their littermates. Beagles are popular for all sorts of scientific studies–including, unfortunately, the sort you were writing about yesterday and the day before. The same qualities that make them such great pets leave them vulnerable to people who want trouble-free dogs for their experiments.