While South Korea's most famous scientist was resigning Friday in scandal after his university said key research was faked, one of his greatest purported breakthroughs was cavorting in the snow. Snuppy, an Afghan hound that researcher Hwang Woo-suk said he cloned, was shown in photographs by South Korean media being led by a handler on a leash through the grounds of Seoul National University's animal hospital, where the shaggy-haired, long-legged dog is now kept. "Lonely Snuppy after professor Hwang leaves," Yonhap news agency wrote in one photo caption.
"Snuppy's well," an official at the animal hospital said, refusing to give her name or more details. Hwang revealed Snuppy,named for Seoul National University puppy,in August, claiming to have created the world's first cloned dog. But like his other breakthroughs in stem-cell science, that assertion is now being questioned.
A university panel that had been investigating a May paper in the journal Science on Hwang's stem-cell research said Friday that Hwang had fabricated those results, and that it was also now investigating the claims of the cloned dog. Blood samples related to Snuppy have been sent for DNA testing, the panel said Friday.
Although other animals have previously been cloned successfully, applying the technique to a dog had been seen as significant because of the difficulties in working with canine eggs. Hwang had said his workers used DNA of skin cells taken from the ear of a 3-year-old male Afghan hound to replace the nucleus of unfertilized eggs. Nearly 1,100 embryos were created and transferred to 123 surrogates, but only three pregnancies resulted, according to Hwang's paper published in the journal Nature. Of those, there was one miscarried fetus and two puppies delivered by Caesarean section after 60 days. One died of pneumonia 22 days after birth, aving Snuppy as the sole survivor.
Hwang posed smiling with the dog in his arms when announcing his alleged achievement in August. The dog garnered worldwide fame, with U.S.-based Time magazine later naming it the "most amazing invention" of 2005. American scientist Gerald Schatten, who collaborated on the project, at the time called Snuppy "a frisky, healthy, normal, rambunctious puppy", reports the AP. N.U.