06/24/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Scientists Clone Cancer-Sniffing Dog: Pets Are Next

In South Korea, scientists have been cloning animals with desirable traits and genetic alterations. Last year, researchers cloned cats that glow under ultraviolet light. Now, scientists have successfully cloned a dog trained to sniff patients for cancer. According to ABC News:

The retriever, named Marine, is the prize of St. Sugar Cancer Sniffing Dog Training Center in Shirahama, Japan, where Satoh is the head trainer. Marine is especially adept at recognizing the scent of certain chemicals found in cancer cells, and Satoh was interested in finding a way to pass her genetic traits on to other dogs.

With much hope, the dog's skin samples were sent to Seoul National University in Korea last December to be cloned in a cooperative project with RNL Bio Co Ltd., a Korean biotechnology firm.

On Monday, RNL Bio showcased four cloned puppies born three weeks ago, exact replicas of Marine. They are named Marine-R, Marine-N, Marine-L and Marine-S.

Scientists believe chances for these four Marine clones to be trained successfully are much higher because they carry the same specific genetic characteristics of the donor dog.

While this is not the first dog cloned, the researchers are lowering the cost of the procedure through a new embryo implantation technology. The biotechnology company hopes to find a commercial market in cloning beloved pets. The process isn't exactly cheap, though.

RNL Bio is also in the process of cloning the world's first commercial pet dog for $150,000, upon request by an American woman in California to re-create her dead pit bull.

Read the whole story at ABC News