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Biotech Science

Korea to Clone Drug Sniffing Dogs 158

Posted by Zonk
from the transhumanism-on-the-horizon dept.
SK writes "Scientists at Seoul National University Korea are seeking to commercially clone dogs this year — the world's first attempt to create canine clones for money. Senior researcher Kim Min-kyu at the Seoul-based University is spearheading the efforts based on his team's expertise in cloning dogs. As per Mr. Kim early last month, they signed a memorandum of understanding with the Korea Customs Service to clone its drug-sniffing dogs. They have already obtained somatic cells of the expensive dogs and will attempt to clone them in July or August to get puppies late this year at the earliest."
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Korea to Clone Drug Sniffing Dogs

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  • wtf (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:38AM (#19813043)
    Rather than cloning, why not take the best sniffers, and breed them? It's cheaper, and given the failure rate of cloning with mammals, a lot more cost effective I'd think.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by p3d0 (42270)
      And isn't it possible the offspring will actually improve on the parents?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jack455 (748443)
        Exactly. This is the stupidest idea I ever heard of. (OK maybe not the stupidest.) Sure, they can make more money short-term because it sounds important, but that's only by counting on some people lacking either scientific understanding or common sense being in positions of authority.

        Example:
        Company A offers specially-bred and _fully-trained_ drug sniffing dogs. They are constantly improving their capabilities and have the fullest potential available.

        Company B used technology to make copies of previous gene
        • Perhaps the point is not to create dogs by the time-honored 'most efficient method possible'. Perhaps the point is to highlight the advanced nature of Korea's biotech industry to court foreign interest/investment/prestige and possibly to attract further talent. Cloning dogs may not be the best way to produce dogs, but perfecting mammal cloning techniques (and the undoubtedly several spin-off discoveries and technologies which one would expect to accompany such research) requires some in situ experimentatio

          • 2 words: re pet
      • It's never simple with genetics, especially if there's several genes involved. Some of the offspring might be better, some about the same, some probably worse. Of course that's not a big problem, the last group become lunch.
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by EatHam (597465)
        They might be tastier as well.
      • by Dun Malg (230075)

        And isn't it possible the offspring will actually improve on the parents?
        Well, even more importantly, why are they even bothering? 95% of the dog's effectiveness as a sniffer is training plus the breed in general. I don't think the abilities of specific dogs vary enough to warrant the expense and difficulty of cloning.
    • by coren2000 (788204)
      Because an army of clones is way cooler. duh!
    • It's cheaper, and given the failure rate of cloning with mammals, a lot more cost effective I'd think.

      SNU may have ways to keep the costs down -

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/10587038/ [msn.com]
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by jrob323 (931808)
      Cloning's better. If you just bred them, you'd lose all the training. Duh.
    • by bagsc (254194)
      Breeding takes time, and when pouncing on economic opportunities like the current need for explosives sniffing dogs, speed to market is what will determine how much profit you can make. The point of the article is that these dogs can be delivered this year. If you wait ten years to breed the traits out, the market will already be saturated. Besides, what good American would object to paying $50,000 for an explosives sniffing dog to stop terrorism?
    • Maybe the working dogs have been neutered, to improve their temperament?

    • That's what I was thinking. In the best case scenario, cloning maintains current traits. Selective breeding strengthens traits. There might be some use of cloning good sniffer females (although I'm sure they could do all sorts of implantation of embryos in other females) if there is a shortage. Anyways, I'm not a breeding expert, so maybe they know best.
    • by quarmar (125648)
      Given a choice between cloning a Kentucky Derby winner and taking a chance on siring a winner, most would go with the clone.
    • by cytg.net (912690)
      but but but

      if you wanna breed the best of the breed, there can be only two.

      clone them and you got ulimited supply of the best of the best ..
      some to do work others to speed up the breeding process.

      Aiiiiiiiiight ?
    • Rather than than breeding a whole bunch of dogs, why not just fire a few government officials for trying to prevent people from having some fun in their free time? That seems even easier still, and it actually increases personal freedom rather than decreasing it.
    • because they've eaten the parents...
  • there's nothing wrong with this, but from a practical "human nature" point of view it's one of those things that's beyond horrible even though I'm sure it's a hassle to get these very expensive dogs the old-fashioned way. It's about what kind of society we want to live in, this isn't really for science, this is to save a few dollars and do something cheapening to mans best friend in the process.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MajSandwich (938781)
      Ah, but what sauce will be served with these dogs?
      • by LM741N (258038)
        So are posts about eating dogs insightful or trolls? Please decide quick. I don't have all day. I need to take my dog out for a walk.
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward

          So are posts about eating dogs insightful or trolls? Please decide quick. I don't have all day. I need to take my dog out for a walk.
          Walk or wok?
        • Insightful only w/ regards Korea and old people using email. Otherwise it's a troll!
      • Re: (Score:1, Redundant)

        by cashman73 (855518)
        Note to self: Buy some stock in that Korean restaurant chain down the street.
      • by baeksu (715271)

        Ah, but what sauce will be served with these dogs?

        Sheez, the ignorance. You think people eat dog meat like steaks?

        Dog meat usually comes in two varieties:

        Boshintang is a hot and spicy soup that is served with a bowl of rice and the regular Korean side dishes (kimchi, whatever the restaurant happens to have that day).

        Su-yuk is thinly cut meat that is steamed together with assorted herbs and vegetables. It's usually eaten as a side dish with soju (at least that's how I eat it). It's a little on the fa

    • by jimstapleton (999106) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:41AM (#19813111) Journal
      logically? It's a waste of time and money. Old fashioned breeding produces a much higher result rate (multiple puppies per litter, rather than multiple litters to get a viable puppy). Additionally, the results of breeding will be a lot healthier and long lived than those of cloning.

      This is simply a 'nifty' factor thing, and is logically a waste, at least for the purpose they are suggesting to use it for.

      Scientifically, I think it'll produce a lot of good data. Commercially it'll just produce some ripped-off customers and unhealthy dogs.
      • factually? Allow me.

        Old fashioned breeding produces a much higher result rate (multiple puppies per litter, rather than multiple litters to get a viable puppy).

        Old fashioned breeding produces multiple puppies per litter. Some of these puppies will have the attributes you want. Others won't. It will take at least a year to tell which are which. See the problem?

        Additionally, the results of breeding will be a lot healthier and long lived than those of cloning.

        I'm going to counter that with another made-up
        • Actually, due to cellular factors - a clone is biologically the age of the parent at the time the source cells were harvested, plus the age of the cloned organism. This is not a gut reaction, this is quite factural.

          Regarding the breeding process, you don't always get results, but a complex mammal (say a dog, or if you want an example that already was made, a sheep), takes hundreds of tries for ONE viable offspring.

          some reading for you, since you've neglected your knowledge in genetics
          dolly [wikipedia.org] - There theory ab
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        As someone who trains dogs semi-professionally, I've got to agree with jimstapleton. Dogs are incredibly genetically variable animals, and just cloning a decent dog is, at best, only a small part of doing the job, and probably a waste. Other factors in the development of a drug-detection dog include:
        1. Is the dog healthy enough to complete training? (A dog could have a fantastic nose, but bad hips, or some other non-obvious physical problem.)
        2. Is the dog amenable to training? (Some dogs are dumb, but others are
        • Well, if they could get rid of the 'artificial aging' part, 1 would be find with a clone, short of an accident. Same with 4, though 4 may not need to get rid of the artifcial aging problem. 2 and 3 however are highly dependant on environment, and genetics can only produce tendancies, not results, so I'd have to agree with you on that.
          • I'm not trying to be argumentative, I also think this is not a great idea. But the aging problem, couldn't that be addressed by taking sample cells from a big batch of bred newborn puppies. Wait til they are a year or so old and you can test their ability to sniff out drugs. Then take the frozen cells you kept from the best ones and clone from them. Their cell age should not be much older than the original, right? Correct me if I'm wrong, I have only a novice's understanding of the latest genetics researc
            • I didn't say you were being argumentative, I was just making a few points as to what was likely cuased by genetics, and what could be environmental.

              Regarding aging, unfortunately not. While the telomere problem would mostly be nullified (telomerase production usually ceases after birth, not during or prior to), they still accumulate the cellular damage that does transfer. While the cellular age might only be (we'll say) 2 months, you have the problem of a limited supply of that strain.

              Assumptions for analys
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by osgeek (239988)
          1 is subject to debate and will be based upon the cloner's ability to minimize or eliminate the effects of premature aging.

          2, 3, and 4 are almost completely a matter of genes.

          It doesn't really matter how many dogs you've trained semi-professionally. Until you get your hands on one genetically identical animal, after another, after another... I don't think you'll fully appreciate how much alike these creatures will be. Additionally, they'll be raised in very similar drug-sniffing environments.

          It will be ve
          • by soren100 (63191)

            It doesn't really matter how many dogs you've trained semi-professionally. Until you get your hands on one genetically identical animal, after another, after another... I don't think you'll fully appreciate how much alike these creatures will be. Additionally, they'll be raised in very similar drug-sniffing environments.

            It will be very much similar to driving one 2007 V6 Honda Accord just off the assembly line after another. You'll rarely notice a significant difference from one to the next.

            There's a huge a

        • That list you posted works well if you substitute "NFL quarterback" for "dog". Except, perhaps, for the decent nose.
      • As someone familiar with the use of dogs for US Customs (now Customs and Border Protection), there is an element in this thread that I have not yet seen addressed. That is, while allowing for performance variances among dogs, proper training determines a good drug dog, not necessarily the dog itself.

        Most pooches have very good sniffers and can detect the presence of drugs. The key is to teach them when to alert and when not to. False positives benefit no one and neither do actual positives of no conseq

    • just like cattle (Score:3, Insightful)

      by r00t (33219)
      Clone the ones that taste best. This is East Asia you know, and there's nothing wrong with that from a logical point of view. Pigs are smarter than dogs anyway, and we eat those, so it's not as if intelligence would be an issue.

      I'll have a Pekingese please, baked with some rosemary. Yummy!
    • I don't understand what's so "horrible" about this. Why do people get so defensive when it comes to cloning and/or domestic animals? "Cheapening man's best friend?" Oh, I forgot that clones don't have souls...
  • RePet (Score:5, Funny)

    by CompMD (522020) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:39AM (#19813057)
    RePet: Never lose your loved pets. Opening in a mall near you!
  • I, for one, welcome our new cloned, drug-sniffing dog overlords but, on a more serious discussion note, since cloning doesnt clone the memories/knowledge of the parent, why clone when you can just breed? Though it would be a good idea if you get a good bloodline with little disease and such
    • Cloning is supposedly going to be much easier then breeding (once you have a perfect specimen, it's no trouble to reproduce the traits). True, all the training still must be done, but you're making the process easier (supposedly).
    • why clone when you can just breed?

      Does it really matter? They know that the specimen has all the genetic traits it needs to be a successful drug sniffing dog. Why take the chance of breeding that out? Once the production line gets ramped up, I'm sure that this place will be making discoveries left and right which improve the science behind cloning and improve humanity's knowledge about biology in general. Hopefully, they won't stay as trade secrets for too long. How strong is the patent system in Kor

      • by mpe (36238)
        Does it really matter? They know that the specimen has all the genetic traits it needs to be a successful drug sniffing dog. Why take the chance of breeding that out?

        You still have to train the dogs.

        Once the production line gets ramped up, I'm sure that this place will be making discoveries left and right which improve the science behind cloning and improve humanity's knowledge about biology in general.

        If these were robots then the term "production line" would make sense. Even without genetic variatio
        • Does it really matter? They know that the specimen has all the genetic traits it needs to be a successful drug sniffing dog. Why take the chance of breeding that out?
          You still have to train the dogs.

          I know the dog still needs to be trained, but some dogs, like bloodhounds, have a better sense of smell, there's a genetic aspect which cannot be trained, its either there or its not.

          Once the production line gets ramped up, I'm sure that this place will be making discoveries left and right which improve th

          • by Dun Malg (230075)

            I know the dog still needs to be trained, but some dogs, like bloodhounds, have a better sense of smell, there's a genetic aspect which cannot be trained, its either there or its not.

            They're talking about cloning drug sniffing dogs, not tracking dogs. The former is like looking for an elephant in a barn, while the latter is like looking for a mouse. You can use pretty much any sort of dog for drug sniffing--- and they do. They often just pick pound dogs that have a suitable temprament.

            Really, you can use most any dog for tracking as well--- scent hounds are just better suited to it by breeding. But even then, the difference between (say) a Labrador and a Bloodhound is more signific

      • by Dun Malg (230075)

        They know that the specimen has all the genetic traits it needs to be a successful drug sniffing dog. Why take the chance of breeding that out?
        The only genetic trait necessary to make it a good drug sniffing dog is being a dog. They use everything from beagles to german shepherds. It's more about training than innate ability. All dogs are good sniffers.
  • by Tickenest (544722) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:44AM (#19813167) Homepage Journal
    Who's a good clone? Who's a good clone? Are you a good clone? Oh yes you are you're the best clone in the world yes you are yes you are!
  • Uhhh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Spudtrooper (1073512)
    I hate to break it to them, but that whole "drug sniffing" thing is the result of training. They don't just pop out knowing what pot smells like.
    • Some human-defined canine behaviour is inherited without training. My parents setters showed gun-dog behaviour despite never having been trained or worked with dogs on a shoot. My partner's West Highland terrier is included to hunt rodents without any training (ratting is the main role for Westies when kept as working dogs).
      • by Dun Malg (230075)

        Some human-defined canine behaviour is inherited without training. My parents setters showed gun-dog behaviour despite never having been trained or worked with dogs on a shoot. My partner's West Highland terrier is included to hunt rodents without any training (ratting is the main role for Westies when kept as working dogs).

        Those aren't human defined behaviors. Those are natural hunting instincts that humans have traditionally exploited. The reason those setters showed "gun dog behavior" is that retrieving, flushing, and pointing/setting (the traditional gun dog tasks) are natural parts of the canine hunting instinct. That's why dogs and people are such a good match. Our natural interests are remarkably similar.

  • by WIAKywbfatw (307557) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @09:49AM (#19813245) Journal
    What's wrong with selective breeding? It's proven to work, it's without any real drawbacks, it's cheap and it's easy to do.

    Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best ones.
    • because only a small percentage of the dogs actually make it to become a drug sniffing dog.. the rest? well, I'm pretty sure in korea they're sold to butchers.
      • You take some male, top-notch sniffer dogs, you take some female, top-notch sniffer dogs. You breed them.

        How hard is that?

        Each mating gives you several puppies. I''d guess that some (around 25 percent) would be better than their parents, some (around half would be just as good) and some (around 25 percent) would be less proficient.

        If you do that for a few generations then you'll end up with dogs that are better than what you have at the moment, plus you'll have a selection of dogs that are more genetically
        • you've obviously never bred or trained dogs.. if cloning were perfected then you can train each dog the same way and get the same result. With normally bred dogs even from "top notch" pairs you will still get only one or none dogs out of the litter that qualify.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          actually, after intense selective breeding, your dogs will be highly inbred, and probably have lots of health problems.
    • by Ngarrang (1023425)
      The only downside I see is the removal of natural selection from the process if the cloning becomes wide-spread. Part of life, adaptation and evolution is for new traits to appear, and if successful, will probably survive to the next generation through the natural process.

      By cloning one of the dogs, you should end up identical copies. That is the goal of cloning, yes? You might lose out on the next generation of dog who's nose was MORE sensitive.

      You would be saving money (maybe, I am wondering how much t
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Vellmont (569020)

      What's wrong with selective breeding?

      Nothing in concept. The practice is another matter. Many breeders have screwed up the gene pool of certain dog breeds and introduced multiple genetic problems (hip displasia for instance). They select for aesthetic qualities and not often enough for good companion dog qualities, or eliminating genetic disease.

      Also most dog breeds were selected as working dogs, not companion dogs. As a result we have dogs that are too aggressive, or have too much need to heard (people
    • by kahei (466208) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:11AM (#19814355) Homepage
      What's wrong with selective breeding? It's proven to work, it's without any real drawbacks, it's cheap and it's easy to do.


      I don't know where all the people in this thread who believe that have come from. It's incredibly hard to do, involving massive amounts of trial and error. By the time you've created a breed of dog that breeds true (i.e. within a certain range of accepted characteristics -- not necessarily always the exact point you want, though) you've usually introduced anything from hip dysplasia to total psychosis. It took hundreds of years to develop Border Collies and even then as anyone who's tried to use them to herd sheep will tell you only about 1 in 4 is really the way they're supposed to be. There's one on my Uncle's farm that doesn't go uphill. Product of centuries of very dedicated breeding, it is, much more than there's time to do for drug dogs.

      So no, selective breeding is not simple or easy either in genetic theory or in practice, and it involves a lot of looking after puppies until you are sure they don't have the features you want and only *then* drowning them.

      Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best ones.

      Sometimes, the 'inspirational poster slogan' approach to solving difficult biological problems is stupid. Actually, that's the case pretty often.

    • by hackstraw (262471)
      What's wrong with selective breeding? It's proven to work, it's without any real drawbacks, it's cheap and it's easy to do.

      Sometimes, the simplest solutions are the best ones.


      I did not read the article, so I have no idea what I'm talking about, but I thought the same thing.

      What does cloning give you? Because even if you have the best genetically 100% reproducible drug sniffing organism, it still has to be _trained_ to do its task at hand.

      Now, I know why most of the illegal drugs are still illegal in the US
      • by Bob-taro (996889)

        Now, I know why most of the illegal drugs are still illegal in the US, but why does Korea have illegal drugs?
        I know this is completely off topic, but I'm just curious: Why do you think illegal drugs are still illegal in the US? And why wouldn't Korea have illegal drugs?
        • by hackstraw (262471)
          I know this is completely off topic, but I'm just curious: Why do you think illegal drugs are still illegal in the US?

          Money, power, and racism mostly. Also, the people in the government simply don't have it on their priority radar to undo the obvious wrong. Kinda like all of the junk laws on the books like things that are "illegal" for you to do between consenting adults in private.

          The origins of the drug laws in the US are mostly racially motivated.

          And why wouldn't Korea have illegal drugs?

          The reason I b
  • Don't all massively cloned beings end up rebelling against their creators? When do we become dry food, ball throwing slaves whose only job is to amuse our canine overlords?
  • Next they will start messing with the DNA to make them even more sensitive.

    Replicants, here we come!
  • Considering past revelations about cloning in Korea, I'm surprised that they aren't going for a drug sniffing human.
    • Plenty (Score:1, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      I'm surprised that they aren't going for a drug sniffing human.

      We already breed plenty of those here in California.
  • by repetty (260322) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:12AM (#19813549) Homepage
    This is a good thing. Imagine if they'd decided to clone crotch sniffing dogs.

    --Richard
  • Enterprising drug barons can then experiment to see if there are any genetic black holes in the dogs drug sensing capability and possibly use this information to design a form a drug packaging which cannot be detected by the cainine customs cops.
  • Cloning, the Drug War, and the hint of impending nuclear destruction, that is some news article.
  • by Deadstick (535032) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @10:21AM (#19813679)
    How about cloning legislators who have a clue about drug wars?

    rj
    • How about cloning legislators who have a clue about drug wars?

      You can't clone one of those unless you find an original. I'm afraid that you'll have to engineer one of those. Don't forget to preserve the 'electability' genes, while you're working on the 'cluefulness' genes.

  • This is the direct result of too many people thinking they can "zerg" their way out of a situation. I can see it now, throngs of drug-sniffing dogs rushing over and clawing a drug den down until it explodes.
  • ...is just about beginning to mature. Soon, they'll have people going "I don't want any of that genetically modified food"....
  • Just cross the beagle with Naomi Campbell or Kate Moss or (insert favourite shallow celebrity here) and you'd have a pooch that could ferret out drugs in no time.
  • by BlackCobra43 (596714) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @11:42AM (#19814807)
    After the last outrageous cloning claim by S.Korea was revealed to be pure bullshit, can we really believe this claim? Or that they even stand a good chance of suceeding?
    • by semiotec (948062)
      that's great! let's judge the scientific community of the ENTIRE country based on the actions of a single scientist.

      yep, way to go!

  • Why would you want your dog to get high?
  • Apparently dogs eggs are not fully developed in the ovaries. The eggs actually develop when the dog goes into heat and the eggs move down the uterus. So while there is a company that can clone cats, (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/03/ 0 324_040324_catclones.html) that company has been unsuccessful at cloning dogs. According to a show on TV about this company, they said they would need to build a fake uterus. Of course this is weird because supposedly korea already cloned dogs 2 years ago (h
  • by Dekortage (697532) on Tuesday July 10, 2007 @12:11PM (#19815221) Homepage

    They won't sniff drugs (well, maybe catnip) but Lifestyle Pets [lifestylepets.com] sells the "Ashera" line of housecats. It costs a mere $22K (or $28K if you want expedited processing) plus $1500 shipping -- and, according to their FAQ [lifestylepets.com], "All Ashera kittens are provided with a Certificate of Authenticity that will include an image of each kitten's DNA 'fingerprint'."

    If Microsoft ever gets into this business, we'll be in real trouble. "I'm sorry, sir, we need to ensure that your copy of Microsoft Puppy is not pirated. Can you read me the 500-character DNA fingerprint off of your Certificate of Authenticity?"

  • This is going to be an expensive waste of time.

    Being a good detection dog has more to do with personality than with raw olfactory skill.

    Two dogs with the same DNA won't necessarily have similar personalities. Think about the identical twins that you know. Same DNA, different personalities.

    You can't clone personality. What a waste of time and resources.
  • OMG CLONED DOGS!

    Who would have guessed that Raccoon City was in Korea?
  • They really need more of these dogs? How much confiscated cocaine does this government have that they need to start cloning dogs just to sniff it all up? And what if they suddenly run out? I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to see an angry cokehead dog not get his fix...

    ...sounds like a recipe for disaster if you ask me.
  • Here Come the zombies
  • The thing that I have been wondering about is the various items I have read about expected advances in life prolonging medecine.

    After they actually figure out how to do it it would be a good ten years before they have something like that that they'll market to humans, but how about extending the lives of dogs?

    The thing that gave me the idea was eye dogs. An eye dog costs a lot to train and usually humans outlive them. This can be very traumatic to a blind persion who has had an eye dog for a number of ye

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