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Old Booger rises again as five cloned puppies.

Byline: By SARA THOMAS

FIVE puppies cloned from a dead dog were delivered to their owner yesterday in a medical company's first commercial deal.

The replicas of US owner Bernann McKinney's pit bull Booger were created by a South Korean team.

Ms McKinney was given a special rate of pounds 25,000 for being the first customer, but RNL Bio said its usual price would be up to pounds 75,000 per dog.

The clones were born last week after being produced in co-operation with a team of Seoul University scientists who created the world's first cloned dog in 2005, a male Afghan hound named Snuppy.

"It's a miracle!" McKinney repeatedly shouted when she saw the cloned dogs. "Yes, I know you! You know me, too!" she said, hugging the tiny black puppies, which were sleeping with one of their two surrogate mothers, both Korean mixed breed dogs.

The cloning team is led by Lee Byeong-chun, a former colleague of disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who scandalised the international scientific community when his purported breakthroughs in cloned stem cells were revealed as fake in 2005.

Independent tests confirmed the 2005 dog cloning was genuine, and Lee's team has since cloned 30 dogs and five wolves.

RNL Bio said its cloning of Booger was the first successful commercial cloning of a dog, adding it would offer the service to customers worldwide.

Ms McKinney contacted Lee after Booger died of cancer in April 2006.

The Korean scientists took the dog's frozen cells to Seoul in March and launched cloning work in late May.

Lee's team have identified the puppies as Booger's genuine clones, and his university's forensic medicine team is conducting reconfirmation tests.

"The cells' status was indeed bad as they had been stored for a long time, so we cautiously approached the work," Lee said. "But the scientific technology has also developed compared with when we cloned Snuppy. There is no room for any doubt over whether they are real clones."

Ms McKinney, 57, a screenwriter who taught drama at US universities, said she was especially attached to Booger because he saved her life when she was attacked by another dog three times his size.

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The cloned pit bull puppies with their surrogate mother and, inset, Bernann McKinney with one of them
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Aug 6, 2008
Words:382
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