A dog cloned in a test-tube by a team of South Korean scientists working to bring back the woolly mammoth has given birth to her second litter of seven puppies.
Kerechene – a laika – has been dubbed ‘supermum’ by the team of geneticists after giving birth to the second litter on New Year’s Day this year.
The second set of puppies includes five females – black in colour – and two lighter-shaded males, all naturally born, and follow the first litter from May 2019.
Kerechene was cloned three years ago by a team of South Korean scientists led by cloning expert Dr Hwang Woo Suk.
Kerechene was brought to life in 2017 at the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, where Dr Suk and his team are based.
They used a small fragment of her mother’s ear to capture the genetic material needed to produce the clone.
When she was three months old she was taken to Russia and introduced to her genetic mother for the first time.
‘Seven puppies were born, two boys and five girls,’ said Dmitry Ivanov, of Bayanay hunting club in Yakutia region, introducing the new arrivals.
‘All of them are well, they were born strong.’
The naturally-born puppies will be given away as working dogs to hunters.
The cloning was undertaken by the South Koreans with Russian scientists from North-Eastern Federal University in Yakutsk, reports The Siberian Times.
Kerechene’s development is being studied for the purpose of genetic research, as is another cloned laika called Belekh.
Dr Suk and his team are also working on cloning the extinct woolly mammoth using remains of the species preserved in the permafrost soil in Siberia.
Seven years ago blood was found in a mammoth carcass on Malolyakhovskiy island, dated as 28,000 years old.
Other samples – some older – taken from mammoths have been found not to be of sufficient quantity for cloning.
The same team are also hoping to resurrect the long-extinct Lenskaya breed of horse by extracting cells from a 42,000-year-old extinct foal discovered preserved in near-perfect condition in Siberia.
After several months of intense work on the frozen baby horse, a joint Russian-South Korean research team are growing optimistic that they will obtain the cells needed.