Endangered Wolves Cloned--Can Cloning Save Others From Extinction?

Maryann Mott
for National Geographic News
March 29, 2007

Update, April 11, 2007: After learning of mistakes in the wolf-clones study referred to in this March 29, 2007, article, the journal that published the study, Cloning and Stem Cells, removed the report from its Web site

The gray wolf—a predator once hunted to near extinction in the United States—now joins a small but growing number of endangered species that have been cloned.

South Korean scientists announced Monday that they duplicated two gray wolves using the same method that produced Dolly the sheep, the first successfully cloned mammal.

The process is known as somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).

"This study demonstrated that SCNT is a practical approach for conserving endangered canids [which include dogs, wolves, and foxes]," wrote the research team, led by Byeong Chun Lee, a professor at Seoul National University's College of Veterinary Medicine.

In South Korea, the researchers said, gray wolves are rarely found in the wild and only a small number live in captivity.

The clones, named SnuWolf and SnuWolffy, were born in October 2005.

Researchers reportedly delayed the announcement because disgraced stem-cell researcher Woo Suk Hwang is listed as one of the study authors, which prompted additional verification to confirm the clones were real.

An investigation by Seoul National University officials last year found that Hwang fabricated key stem-cell research, including claims to have cloned the first human embryo in 2004.

(Read related story: "Cloned Dog Real, Other Hwang Research Not, Study Finds" [January 11, 2006].)

The cloned-wolf study appears in the November 2006 issue of the journal Cloning and Stem Cells.

Can Cloning Save Endangered Species?

Continued on Next Page >>


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