Scientists successfully clone monkeys for the first time

Scientists successfully clone monkeys for the first time

Scientists successfully clone monkeys for the first time

They say creating clones of monkeys, which are closer to humans than mice or other animals, will help research into human diseases, such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, and also the development of a treatment. Scientists used the same laboratory cloning process that created Dolly the sheep in Scotland in 1996, the researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai announced.

"A primate model that can be generated with a known and uniform genetic background would undoubtedly be very useful in the study".

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua are not the first primate clones. They are named after the Mandarin term for the Chinese nation and people.

Humans could be cloned by this technique, in principle, said Poo, though this team's focus was on cloning for medical research.

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua are the first monkey clones created by somatic cell nuclear transfer.

Ever since cloning produced Dolly the sheep, scientists have copied a slew of mammals ranging from dogs to ponies.

Experts have strongly opposed human cloning, citing ethical concerns about issues such as the low success rate and the risks of the procedure.

Prof Darren Griffin of the University of Kent in the United Kingdom told the BBC: "Careful consideration now needs to be given to the ethical framework under which such experiments can, and should, operate". The formal name of the procedure is somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), involving a transfer of the nucleus of a cell into an enucleated egg (an egg that has had its nucleus removed).

So what changed that allowed Poo and his team to successfully produce a monkey clone via somatic cell nuclear transfer? When the resulting clump of cells is large enough, it is then implanted into a surrogate mother's uterus to be carried to term.

They're not only the first primates in history to have been cloned from a non-embryonic cell, but the achievement itself represents a much more significant, scientific breakthrough, which could (but probably won't) lead to humans being cloned in the future. That honor goes to Tetra, a rhesus monkey made in 1999 using the simpler method of embryo splitting (which is how human twins are formed). Cloning cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) is feasible by somatic cell nuclear transfer using fetal fibroblasts, according to a study published online January 24 in Cell.

After the DNA was transferred to donated eggs, genetic reprogramming was used to switch on or off genes that would otherwise have suppressed embryo development.

Although the successful fertilization and birth of Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua is a milestone in the biological sciences, the work came with a cost. Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua were cloned using the same foetal fibroblasts, cells taken from the connective tissue of a macaque foetus.

"We tried several different methods but only one worked".

Researchers with the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience have officially cloned a [really cute] pair of long-tailed macaque monkeys, Reuters news reported on Wednesday.

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