Six female dogs were born in December 2007 through a cloning with a gene that produces a red fluorescent protein than make them glow. Two died, but the four others survived according to Seoul National University professor Lee Byeong-chun, head of the research team. The South Korean scientists say they have engineered four dogs (beagles) that glow red using cloning techniques that could help develop cures for human diseases. The four dogs, all named "Ruppy"- according to the research team is a combination of the words "ruby" and "puppy" - look like typical beagles by daylight but glow red under ultraviolet light, and the dogs' nails and abdomens, look red even to the naked eye.
According to Lee what's significant in this work is not the dogs expressing red colors but that they planted genes into them. His team identified the dogs as clones of a cell donor through DNA tests. Scientists in the U.S., Japan and Europe previously have cloned fluorescent pigs and mice, but this would be the first time dogs with modified genes have been cloned successfully, Lee said. He said that his team took skin cells from a beagle (short legged smooth-coated hound), inserted fluorescent genes into them and put them into eggs before implanting them into the womb of a surrogate mother, a local mixed breed.
The scientist said his team has started to implant human disease-related genes in the course of dog cloning, saying this will help them find new treatments for genetic diseases such as Parkinson's.
He would not provide further details, saying the research was still under way.
A South Korean scientist who created glowing cats in 2007 based on a similar cloning technique said that Lee's puppies are genuine clones, saying that he seen them and had read about them in the journal. According to the veterinary professor we can appraise this is a step forward finding cures for human diseases. What is important now is on what specific disease Lee's team will focus on. Lee was a key aid to disgraced scientist Hwane, Woo-Suk, whose breakthroughs on stem cell research were found to have been made using faked data. Later proved, through independent test, that the team's dog cloning was genuine.