Chinese Lab Clones the World's First Primates Using Dolly-the-Sheep Technique

Scientists clone monkeys for the first time

Scientists clone monkeys for the first time

Chinese researchers employed the somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) technique to create two identical long-tailed macaques, who have been called Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, born eight and six weeks ago respectively, according to the journal Cell. However, macaques are the first primates to be cloned, and would be an important step in successfully cloning human beings.

Chinese scientists have successfully cloned two monkeys, an innovation that could mean huge progress in developing medicine to cure cancers and brain diseases such as Alzheimer's, science WeMedia account The Intellectual reported Thursday.

For the first time, Chinese scientists have created two genetically identical monkey clones using the same technique that produced Dolly the sheep - the first-ever mammal to be cloned.

The scientists say they followed strict global guidelines for animal research, set by the US National Institutes of Health.

One day, the approach might be used to create large populations of genetically identical monkeys that could be used for medical research - and avoid taking monkeys from the wild.

Back in 1996, University of Edinburgh researchers working with biotechnology company, PPL Therapeutics, utilized a variant of the same SCNT process to procure Dolly - the world's first domestic sheep cloned from an embryo.

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They're not the first primates ever to be cloned - that honour goes to Tetra, a rhesus monkey cloned in 1999 in OR using the embryo-splitting method.

"The barrier of cloning primate species is now overcome", Chinese Academy of Sciences Muming Poo said. Under this, the scientists transfer the nucleus DNA of a cell, into an egg which has had its nucleus DNA removed.

This cloning method has proven extremely hard in monkeys up till now, and, indeed, the researchers created several clones which only survived for a few hours after birth.

The two monkeys were part of a total of 79 different transfer attempts, which used different techniques.

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. Adult donor cells were also used, but those clones only lived for a few hours after birth. With the cloning of a primate species, "the technical barrier is now broken". The monkeys are named Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong.

To be fair, though, nobody is talking about cloning humans yet. Cloning from an adult monkey is still in the works after several failures. They warn that the possibility of cloning humans comes with its own set of complex set of ethical, moral and legal dilemmas. In the years since, the technology that powers cloning has advanced slowly but steadily, and while many scientists fear the inevitability that one day a human clone will be created, others are pushing the field into new areas.

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