01/04/2009 06:27 PM
Living Together - Are Cloned Pets the Real Thing? - NYTimes.com
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January 1, 2009
Beloved Pets Everlasting?
THE most difficult thing about the cloned puppies is not telling them apart, but explaining why they don’t
look exactly alike. This was the problem Lou Hawthorne faced on a recent afternoon hike with Mira and
MissyToo, two dogs whose embryos were created from the preserved, recycled and repurposed nuclear
DNA of the original Missy, a border collie-husky mix who died in 2002.
To be sure, they have a very strong resemblance to each other and to Missy. It’s just that sometimes, as
soon as people hear that the dogs are clones, the questions start coming:
“Why is one dog’s fur curlier?”
“Why aren’t the dogs the same size?”
“Why is one of them darker?”
“Why does this one have a floppy ear?”
Mr. Hawthorne, who is 48, is highly invested in the notion of likeness. With clones, after all, what good
does similar do? It is Mr. Hawthorne’s biotech company, BioArts, which is based here in the Bay Area but
has arrangements with a laboratory in South Korea, that performed the actual cloning.
He also has particular reason to be sensitive to questions that touch on the authenticity of the clones,
given the history of his chief geneticist,
Dr. Hwang Woo Suk
of the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in
South Korea. Dr. Hwang is perhaps best known for fraudulently reporting in 2004 that a team he led had
successfully cloned human embryos and
. After the false claims were unearthed, he was fired by
Seoul National University, where he did his research as a professor. But he is also widely acknowledged
for having been involved in successfully cloning an Afghan hound in 2005.
“Dr. Hwang’s past is obviously controversial, but we feel that his lab and his record when it comes to dog
cloning are the best in the field,” Mr. Hawthorne said. “He’s been very open with me about admitting his
mistakes. Nobody says he lied about cloning animals.”