In what's believed to be a world-first, a South Korean biotech company said it used stem cell technology to clone two puppies born this week.
Seoul-based RNL Bio said the puppies were cloned using fat tissue from a female beagle, the Associated Press reported. The company plans to commercialize the technology so that clients can store their dogs' stem cells to treat their pets' health problems or clone them after they die.
The technology may also benefit people, said RNL Bio chief Ra Jeong-chan. Human disease-related genes can be put into dogs' stem cells in order to create clones that can be used to study human diseases such as diabetes and arthritis.
The stem cell cloning of the dogs was done in cooperation with a team of Seoul National University scientists, led by Lee Byeong-chun. Lee was a key aide to disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who reported stem cell research breakthroughs that were later shown to be false.
While this may be the first time stem cells have been used to clone dogs, other researchers have used stem cells to clone mice, pigs and deer, the AP reported.