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Sniffer dogs could be cloned

A South Korean company has announced that cloning pets may become cheaper in the future thanks to a new technique it has developed.

RNL Bio said it had successfully cloned two Beagle puppies using stem cells from the dog's fat tissue. The firm said its new technique had more than doubled the success rate of the current method of cloning.

There has been no independent confirmation of the claim, but South Korea has become a world leader in the lucrative field of cloning pets.

Last year, RNL Bio claimed to have produced the world's first commercially-cloned dog, a pitbull terrier after a request woman in the US to recreate her beloved pet dog, and more recently a couple in Florida received a puppy cloned in South Korea from their dead pet at a cost of $155,000.

RNL Bio has told news reporters that its scientists extracted fat tissue from the beagle, isolated and expanded the stem cells and developed 84 embryos that were transplanted into five surrogate mother dogs.

One of those gave birth to two puppies, Magic and Stem, this week.

In a statement, the Seoul-based firm said this technique had a 20% chance of success - an improvement over the single digit rate of the current method. And it said this method could reduce the cost of cloning a pet dog by about half, to $50,000, in three years.

Dogs are considered one of the more difficult animals to clone, and this new technique could help develop this fledgling industry, our reporter says.

There is expected to be considerable demand for cloned sniffer dogs, as well as for pets.

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Bit ironic really as recent research has shown that cloned animals often have lung deformities!

Julie Frost