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Disgraced Scientist Clones Coyotes

Plans to create a mammoth

Five of the cloned coyotes are now living at a Korean wildlife center

Disgraced Korean stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-Suk has unveiled the results of his latest experiment: cloning coyotes.

According to his description of the project, Hwang took cells from the skin of a coyote and transplanted their nuclei into a dog’s eggs from which the canine nucleus had been removed. The first clone was born on June 17 at the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation.

The project was funded by the Korean province of Gyeonggi.

The coyotes were shown to the public last week at a wildlife center in a ceremony led by the province’s governor Kim Moon-Soo. Hwang said he plans to “donate” the coyotes to zoos around the world.

Hwang has had a checkered career, to say the least. He was considered a national hero on account of his stem cell research, and in 2004 he published a paper in the U.S. journal Science claiming to have created the world’s first stem-cell line from a cloned human embryo. But his reputation was tarnished in November 2005 by allegations that he had violated medical ethics by accepting human eggs from his own researchers. Two months later, 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 eggs. Last December, an appeals court reduced the penalty.

Disgraced researcher Hwang, second from left, with one of the cloned coyotes

Meanwhile, in 2005, Hwang produced the world’s first cloned dog, Snuppy, who was verified by experts as being a true clone. Four years later came Tegon, a dog who glowed in the dark when a particular antibiotic was added to his food.

“The creation of Tegon opens new horizons since the gene injected to make the dog glow can be substituted with genes that trigger fatal human diseases,” one of the researchers proudly explained.

Other South Korean researchers have cloned a cow, a cat, a pig and a wolf. Many of the animals die young. It’s unknown how many other animals die in all the “research” that takes place to produce these clones.

Governor Kim, however, remains a fan.

“The cloning of an African wild dog is under way, and we will attempt to clone a mammoth in the future,” he said.

What do you say? Scientists such as Hwang say their experiments can lead to major breakthroughs in human health, especially if they can begin to clone human stem cells. Do you think this justifies the experiments? Let us know in a comment or on Facebook.