Cloning - Dog World Article

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Cloning - Dog World Article

Post by Caryll on Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:48 am

I found this article quite interesting in last week's Dog World Newspaper.... I've printed it in full as you need to sign in to see the article online.



THE KENNEL Club says it is ‘genuinely shocked’ by the TV programme about a contest offering dog cloning as its prize.


The club said cloning jeopardised dog welfare and that the ethics involved were questionable.

The £60,000 Puppy: Cloning Man’s Best Friend, which was broadcast on Channel 4 last week, revealed that the ‘prize’ had been won by Rebecca Smith whose 12-year-old Dachshund Winnie had been cloned to produce ‘mini-Winnie’.

The competition was staged by South Korean company Sooam Biotech Research Foundation to publicise its cloning techniques – which cost its customers £60,000. The company said the high cost of the cloning procedure is so the money can go towards the multi-millions spent on developing the technology.

It also called the competition ‘a social experiment’ which would be used to gauge the public’s reaction – ‘so we know where we’re going with this technology’.

The KC’s views were echoed by the British Veterinary Association (BVA), which said that cloning should not be ‘commercialised’ and Dogs Trust which thought the practice unnecessary. The PDSA said the cloning process put the health of animals involved at risk.

To clone Winnie a piece of skin was taken from her and transported to Seoul where a cell from that skin sample was placed inside a hollowed-out egg and electricity was used to fertilise it. The embryo was then implanted in a crossbreed bitch who acted as a surrogate.

The cloned puppy was born via caesarean section on March 30 weighing just over 1lb. She will remain in quarantine in Korea for several months until she is cleared to fly to London.

Dr Woo Suk Hwang, the chief technical officer at Sooam Biotech, pioneered the dog cloning technique in 2005.

Currently, his company is the only one in the world which offers dog cloning commercially. It was responsible for the first cloned dog, an Afghan Hound called Snuppy, who, viewers were told, is still alive and living in Korea. During an interview with DOG WORLD last year Sooam Biotech admitted that nine years on Snuppy is still living in a laboratory.

In 2009 American company BioArts stopped cloning dogs with its chief executive Lou Hawthorne citing various reasons including it was difficult to ‘treat many dogs well – unscalable bioethics’; cloning had unpredictable results; the market was ‘tiny’; and there were continuing legal issues with patents.

At the time Mr Hawthorne said the efficiency rates ‘varied unpredictably and were generally low’, the kennels were infected frequently with diseases, and some clones had skeletal malformations some of which were serious.

Mr Hawthorne spoke out again last week saying: "Dog cloning is unviable. It cannot be achieved at a price people can afford. But the biggest issue is the suffering. Man’s best friend is a dog but when it comes to cloning it isn’t the case.”

The programme showed Ms Smith, 30, and her family close to tears as they described how Winnie’s personality had helped Ms Smith through a difficult time when she was ‘suffering from lots of demons’ and had an eating disorder. Winnie is now elderly and has arthritis and the thought of losing her is causing concern.

"Without Winnie I don’t know where you’d be,” Ms Smith’s mother told her. "Winnie has saved you.”

Ms Smith said: "When Winnie dies I’ll have to move because every time I go for a walk I’ll think of her, and I honestly won’t be able to cope.

"I just love her so much, I really do.”

The other finalists were a Great Dane who had become the companion of a boy with health problems, a crossbreed who had helped his owner get through the loss of her husband and mother and a crossbreed who helped her owner with other dogs’ behavioural problems. Their owners received the news that Winnie had won via Skype from Korea, and appeared to be extremely disappointed.

After the programme screened experts emphasised that cloning cannot reproduce an animal; although it may look very similar it may be poles apart behaviourally and temperamentally. This was borne out by the two Maltese who featured in the documentary. They were cloned from the same dog and brought to Britain by Korean scientists as ‘product samples’. They looked identical but had been raised by different owners and had very different temperaments. One was quiet and easy going while the other appeared bad-tempered and snappy. The scientists had given the latter a nickname meaning ‘evil one’.

"Here at least nurture appears to have triumphed over nature,” the narrator said.


Ethical debate

During their visit to the UK the Sooam Biotech team encountered Pauline Amphlett, breed historian and health representative of the Siberian Husky Club of GB, who told them exactly what she thought of cloning, likening it to Adolf Hitler’s desire to create an Aryan race.

She suggested that the company should be sure it was cloning dogs for correct, ethical reasons ‘to make the world a better place’, and not just creating more dogs ‘who could be eaten’.

"We all know how many dogs are eaten in Korea,” she said.

But Rebecca Smith had no doubts. "The world would be a better place with more Winnies in it,” she said.

Writing in this week’s A Vet’s View DOG WORLD’s resident vet Steve Dean said that it would be unlikely that the dog being cloned and the clone would be the same physically, or even very similar, and because factors influencing their growth and development would not be the same their characters would be different too.

The KC said the competition trivialised cloning.

"We are genuinely shocked at the concept of the competition and the trivialisation of this issue, as we believe most caring dog owners will be,” said secretary Caroline Kisko. "This is an issue of particular concern to us. We are strongly against the principle of cloning as it jeopardises dog welfare and runs contrary to our objective to promote in every way the general improvement of dogs.

"People may turn to cloning when faced with the loss of a beloved pet and the need to replicate the emotional bond they have with their dog, but unfortunately this comes at a price and the price is the welfare implications involved.”

Cloning involves invasive procedures which include surgically implanting the embryo into the bitch used to carry the clone, Mrs Kisko said.

"Because of the poor success rates this procedure may be repeated multiple times, in many different bitches, in order to produce a successful outcome,” she said. "Furthermore, the dog carrying the embryos will have to suffer the effects of unsuccessful pregnancies such as losing embryos and newborns.

"It’s important to remember that cloning can only replicate genetic material and that cloned animals will most likely develop different personalities and be a very different dog to the one cloned. In addition to this there is a high probability of abnormality in the puppy if things go wrong.

"The idea that the emotional bond with a dog who has died is being put above the welfare of the dog or dogs involved in producing the cloned pet is appalling. The ethics involved in this are undoubtedly questionable and we would urge people to take a stand against the practice.”

Dogs Trust said the cloning of dogs was unnecessary and ‘most certainly should not be offered as a prize in a competition’.

"We cannot condone such expensive processes to produce just one dog when major animal welfare charities are heavily committed to structured and expensive neutering programmes to prevent many thousands of healthy stray or abandoned dogs being killed each year,” a spokesman said.

"We are also concerned that the owner of a cloned dog may have unrealistic expectations. The cloned dog is unlikely to be an accurate mirror image of the donor in temperament and behaviour which may well lead to disappointment and a risk of abuse to or abandonment of the dog.”

BVA president Robin Hargreaves said it was difficult to see how the benefits of cloning outweighed the risks.

"We believe that cloning should not be commercialised in the UK,” he said. "There may be many motivations for people wishing to clone their pets but it is important that people are aware that cloned animals will not have the same personalities and behaviour as the original animal.

"The process of cloning involves a healthy surrogate animal which is not in a position to give consent, undergoing procedures – for instance implantation and caesarean section – which are not for the animal’s own benefit and which may have health and welfare implications. In that context it is difficult to see how the benefits could outweigh the potential risks.”

PDSA senior vet Elaine Pendlebury, said cloning was ‘not an appropriate way’ to deal with the loss of a pet.

"It is important to remember that manipulating identical DNA does not lead to an identical pet,” she said. "A cloned pet may look the same but their personality will be different because personality develops through life experiences, including training and socialisation. It is a unique process that cannot be duplicated through cloning.

"The ethical and welfare consequences to cloning are significant too. The procedure not only requires a dog to donate eggs, but also for a dog to become a surrogate mother, posing very obvious risks to the health of animals involved.”


Linebreeding

Prof Dean dedicates his column to cloning this week and likens the practice to linebreeding which, he says, employs ‘a diluted form’.

"Without this relatively coarse attempt to produce clones we would not have the breeds or types of dog we have today,” he writes. "Of course, our attempts are nothing like as precise as what has been achieved in the laboratory…

"Very many people over time have attempted to repeat a mating to effectively produce a clone of a much loved, successful or attractive dog with perceived advantages. Okay, this is not an exact science but the objective is much the same, albeit that outcome is often unsuccessful.”

Even if you repeat a mating the progeny are rarely identical or highly similar to previous results, Prof Dean went on. The donor cell contains maternal ribose nucleic acid (RNA) which differs from that of the dog to be cloned, and some inherited diseases are embedded in the RNA.

"In addition, environmental factors which influenced the growth and development of the original dog will differ with the clone, so learned behaviour, growth and development will be different,” he said. "In short it is likely that, in concert with the legions of people who have sought to reproduce a much loved companion by selective breeding, the owner of this cloned dog is likely to be disappointed in the result. Her dog will look very similar without doubt but there will almost certainly be subtle differences – and perhaps some not so subtle – that will irk or disappoint.”


- See more at: http://www.dogworld.co.uk/product.php/112339/1/kc__shocked__by_dog_cloning_programme/9212e88542697bbdd3eef63f41840d26#sthash.sToVQTru.dpuf

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Caryll

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Re: Cloning - Dog World Article

Post by Wendy on Tue Apr 22, 2014 6:55 pm

Personally, I would not clone my dogs it's a bit too Orwellian for me. Also, you don't really know about the health implications after all Dolly the sheep didn't live for very long did she? I think people may well end up feeling disappointed too - as the traits of the clone probably wouldn't match that of the original dog. No - to weird for me!
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Re: Cloning - Dog World Article

Post by LyndaW on Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:31 pm

Thank you Caryll for taking the trouble to reproduce this interesting article in full.

I do hope the whole grisly exercise, no matter with what type of animal, will cease.

The paragraph about line breeding reminded me of something (yes, it's a Lynda story!  wink ) - I read a Dobermann book which mentioned how - many, many years ago - a bitch was born with naturally erect ears (considered a very desirable enhancement). She was bred back to her father (yes - UGH) and whatever the resultant puppies turned out like, and I would suspect not very well, the only thing that was reported that the erect ears did not reproduce themselves amongst those unfortunate puppies.

To misquote someone (Shakespeare?) "There are more things in heaven and earth than we know the what of" - genes, DNA or whatever.
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Re: Cloning - Dog World Article

Post by Caryll on Tue Apr 22, 2014 7:33 pm

LyndaW wrote:
To misquote someone (Shakespeare?) "There are more things in heaven and earth than we know the what of" - genes, DNA or whatever.

Absolutely - and millions of ways they can all come together!

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Re: Cloning - Dog World Article

Post by Eleanor on Fri Apr 25, 2014 11:29 pm

I quite like the mystery of not knowing which traits are going to develop. happy

But of course, scientists have to know everything.
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