Dog-cloning South Korean scientist signs pact with Russians to clone a mammoth
The controversial South Korean scientist widely viewed as the father of dog cloning has announced he will team up with a Russian university to clone a woolly mammoth, 4,500 years after the species went extinct.
Hwang Woo Suk, head of the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, signed a research pact this week with Russia’s North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) to clone the creature from remains found in Siberia.
According to a news release on the Sooam website, scientists plan to gather egg cells from elephants, replace their nuclei with mammoth’s somatic cells, provided by the Russian university, and implant any resulting embryos into more elephants.
Sooam says it plans to begin the process this year. If successful, a woolly mammoth clone would be born after a 22-month pregnancy.
Hwang was a veterinarian at Seoul National University when his team cloned the world’s first dog in 2005 — an Afghan hound named Snuppy.
Two years later, he would be fired and criminally charged after irregularities were discovered in his human stem cell research. Hwang claimed to have cloned human embryos and created lines of human stem cells from them.
Hwang would receive a two-year suspended sentence for using eggs from his own researchers, embezzlement and falsifying data.
After his firing, he opened his own lab, Sooam, with funding from supporters, where he has continued to clone dogs for pet owners, and continued non-human research projects.
According to the press release, NEFU will continue expeditions to collect biological samples of mammoth remains in Siberia, with help from Sooam. Those samples will be exported to South Korea.
The press release notes that NEFU has been collaborating with the Japanese for more than 10 years on the mammoth restoration project, but without any official agreement.
Over the last three years, the remains of two mammoths have been discovered in the Sakha Republic in the northeast part of Russia. Those remains found in the permafrost layer are often well-preserved and suitable for use in cloning, the press release says.
(Photo credits: Mammoths by Mauricio Anton / Plos; Hwang and Snuppy photos by John Woestendiek)
Posted by jwoestendiek March 16th, 2012 under Muttsblog.
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