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Tag: golden clone giveaway

U.S. company pulls out of dog cloning fight

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The only U.S. biotech company involved in cloning dogs commercially is pulling out of the business, according to the Korea Times.

Lou Hawthorne, the chief executive of  California-based BioArts, said the company will discontinue cloning dogs for customers in light of failed legal efforts to prevent a South Korean rival company from offering cloning services.

In an e-mailed statement to the newspaper, Hawthorne condemned the Korean company, RNL Bio in Seoul, as “black-market cloners,” and also claimed that the occasional physical anomalies of its cloned puppies proved that cloning is a technology “not ready for prime time.”

BioArts has completed the delivery of  cloned dogs to five clients — all bidders in an online auction held this summer, the company said.

The withdrawl of BioArts from dog cloning leaves RNL Bio as the world’s only company involved in the commercial cloning of dogs.

RNL recently announced plans to open a canine cloning center in Korea next year, where it plans to produce 1,000 cloned dogs per year by 2013.

stills-clones3-lgBioArts had insisted it held the sole rights to clone dogs, cats and other mammals under licenses from Start Licensing, which acquired the rights to the technology developed to clone Dolly the sheep from the Roslin Institute.

Start Licensing filed a lawsuit against RNL Bio for patent infringement last October, but Hawthorne said Start Licensing’s legal response was “too little, too late.”

“It became apparent that Start was unwilling either to commit to defend their cloning patents against infringers or grant to BioArts the right to do so on their behalf,” Hawthorne said.

“Start was afraid to defend their patents against challengers in the dog cloning space because if they lost, they might also lose the ability to control markets they actually cared about — mainly agricultural cloning. Start’s strong preference was to do nothing to defend the dog cloning market against patent infringers.”

In closing its cloning business, BioArts also ended its partnership with Korea’s Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, which is led by scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who was fired from Seoul National University shortly after the announcement that it had cloned the world’s first dog, Snuppy.

While Snuppy was verified to be a clone, Hwang’s studies on cloned human stem cells were exposed as fraudulent, leading to criminal charges.

(Photos: Top, James Symington receiving five clones of his dead search and rescue dog Trakr. Symington, who won BioArts “Golden Clone Giveaway” contest, says Trakr found the last survivor at 9-11; by John Woestendiek. Left, Lou Hawthorne with three clones of his mother’s dog, Missy; courtesy of BioArts)

Clones of Trakr to be delivered to owner today

trakrRetired police officer James Symington will receive five clones of his late search and rescue dog, Trakr, at a press conference in Los Angeles today.

BioArts International, a Northern California biotech company, will be presenting Symington with five puppies – all clones of Trakr — at a press conference.

Symington, who says his retired police dog found the last survivor of 9/11, won the “Golden Clone Giveaway” contest sponsored by BioArts International in 2008. His essay explained why Trakr was an ideal candidate for cloning.

The company’s other dog cloning clients — one of five dogs cloned for customers in connection with an online auction has been delivered –have paid an average of $144,000 to clone their canine pets. Symington will receive his puppy clones of Trakr for free.

BioArts International says it holds the sole, worldwide license for the cloning of dogs, cats and endangered species, and is partnered with Sooam Biotech Research Foundation of South Korea. Sooam was established by Hwang Woo-Suk, who led the team that produced the world’s first canine clone, Snuppy,  in 2005, but was fired the next year for falsifying research related to cloning human embryos.

“We received many very touching submissions to our contest, describing some truly amazing dogs,” says Lou Hawthorne, CEO of Bio Arts International. “But Trakr’s story blew us away. His many remarkable capabilities were proven beyond all doubt in our nation’s darkest hour – and we’re proud to have cloned him successfully.”

Trakr was credited with hundreds of arrests and recovered more than $1 million in stolen goods during his career as a police search-and-rescue dog. Symington, a Halifax, Nova Scotia police officer at the time of the Sept. 11 attacks, arrived with Trakr at Ground Zero. According to Symington, Trakr located the last human survivor to be found in the rubble.

“Once in a lifetime, a dog comes along that not only captures the hearts of all he touches but also plays a private role in history,” Symington wrote in his winning essay.

Trakr was presented with an extraordinary service to humanity award by Dr. Jane Goodall, United Nations “Messenger of Peace.”

“They’re identical – down to the smallest detail,” Symington said when meeting  the Trakr clones on Sunday. “Few dogs are born with exceptional abilities – Trakr was one of those dogs. And if these puppies have the same attributes as Trakr, I plan on putting them in to search and rescue so they can help people the way Trakr did.”

In order to clone Trakr,  Hwang’s team replaced the genes in eggs from unrelated dogs with genes from Trakr, stimulated the resulting “couplets” to develop into embryos, then transferred the embryos to dogs who served as surrogate mothers. After normal pregnancies, they gave birth to puppies that are genetically identical to Trakr, the first of which was born December 8, 2008 and the last on April 4, 2009. All were born and weaned in Seoul, South Korea, and all are in excellent health, BioArts says.

“9-11 was a terrible shock for Korean people as well as Americans,” said Dr. Hwang by email from Seoul, Korea. “These five clones of Trakr, who saved a human life at Ground Zero, are a gift not just to Mr. Symington, but to America and the world.”

(Photo: Symington, Hawthorne and clones; courtesy of BioArts International)