Disgraced South Korean stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk yesterday unveiled eight cloned coyotes in a project sponsored by a provincial government.
Hwang delivered the clones to a wild animal shelter at Pyeongtaek, 50km south of Seoul, in a ceremony chaired by Gyeonggi Provincial Governor Kim Moon-soo, Kim’s office said.
Hwang was a national hero until some of his research into creating human stem cells from a cloned embryo was found to be faked.
However, his work in creating Snuppy, the world’s first cloned dog, in 2005 has been verified by experts and authorities.
Under a joint project with the province to clone wild animals, Hwang took cells from the skin of a coyote, Kim’s office said in a statement. He transplanted their nuclei into a dog’s eggs from which the canine nucleus had been removed, it said, adding the first clone was born on June 17.
In a Twitter message, the governor praised Hwang for what he called the world’s first use of such a technique.
“The cloning of an African wild dog is under way, and we will attempt to clone a mammoth in the future,” Kim said.
South Korean experts have previously cloned animals, including a cow, a cat, dogs, a pig and a wolf. The cloned wolf died in 2009.
Hwang shot to fame in 2004 when he published a paper in the US journal Science claiming to have created the world’s first stem-cell line from a cloned human embryo.
However, his reputation was tarnished in November 2005 by allegations that he had violated medical ethics by accepting human eggs from his own researchers.
In January 2006 an investigative team ruled that his findings were faked and said he had produced no stem cells of any kind.
In 2009 Hwang received a two-year suspended sentence for embezzling research funds and ethical lapses in obtaining human eggs. In December last year, an appeals court reduced the penalty to an 18-month suspended sentence.
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