Now, a clone
of one of the rarest dog breeds: the Tibetan mastiff
And the person who led the team that cloned it is none other than disgraced South Korean stem cell scientist Hwang Woo-suk.
The scientists said that they had created 17 clones of the endangered dog breed, popular across China.
The Sooam Biotech Research Foundation said in a statement that the cloned Tibetan mastiffs were born in April, two months after the Chinese Academy of Sciences requested it to do so.
There was no independent confirmation from the academy, however.
The foundation said another institute conducted DNA tests and confirmed that all the 17 dogs had been cloned from one Tibetan mastiff.
But an official of Kogene Biotech, the Seoul-based institute that conducted the DNA tests, said it did not collect its own samples from the dogs. In fact, the samples it tested were provided by the foundation.
Though Kogene confirmed that all the samples had the same DNA, it did not know for certain if they came from cloned animals or the original dog, or a combination of both, the official said.
In 2005, Hwang and his team of Seoul National University scientists successfully created the world's first known dog clone, an Afghan hound named Snuppy, an achievement that was independently confirmed.
Hwang scandalized the international scientific community the same year when his breakthrough human cloning research with embryonic stem cells was found to have been faked.
The Tibetan mastiff, an ancient and now very expensive breed, has become a favorite with the affluent in China and abroad.
The dog is considered an excellent pet, friendly to children and wary of strangers. Legend has it that it can fight off even snow leopards in the wilds of the Tibet autonomous region.
The latest craze to own a Tibetan mastiff has sent its prices soaring, with a perfect specimen now fetching up to 3 million yuan ($440,000).
embryonic stem cells：胚胎干细胞