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Scientists clone monkeys for the first time

  • Author:chinatopwin
  • Source:chinatopwin
  • Release on:2018-01-25

Ever since cloning produced Dolly the sheep, scientists have copied a slew of mammals ranging 
from dogs to ponies. Primates, however, have been elusive -- until now. Chinese researchers 
have successfully cloned a macaque monkey fetus twice, producing sister monkeys Hua Hua 
and Zhong Zhong using the same basic method used to create Dolly. The team removed the 
nucleus from monkey eggs and replaced it with DNA from the fetus, implanting the resulting 
eggs in female monkeys for them to give birth.

The process wasn't easy. It took 127 eggs and 79 embryos to get these results, and it still 
required a fetus to work (Dolly was cloned from an adult). Still, it reflects progress in cloning 
science. The team managed the feat by injecting both a form of mRNA and an inhibitor, the 
combination of which improved the development of blastocysts (the structures that form the 
embryo) and the pregnancy rate for transplanted embryos.

Both baby macaques are healthy, the researchers said, and genetic tests confirm they really 
are duplicates. There could be success with cloning based on adults, too, as the team is still 
waiting on results from multiple pregnancies.

In theory, this makes human cloning more realistic given the genetic similarities between 
monkeys and our own species. However, that's unlikely to happen any time soon, if at all. 
There are numerous ethical objections, and not just because it would involve creating exact 
copies of people. Whether or not you mind cloning based on fetuses, the process currently 
requires many failures to get to the intended results. There's also the question of what 
happens with those clones that do survive into adulthood -- they may face pressure to live 
up to the original.

As such, monkey cloning may be limited to medical research, where having more than one 
monkey with the same genes could help scientists compare the results of treatments or test 
under specific conditions. That still won't please everyone, but it'll at least represent an ethical 
line in the sand that science is unwilling to cross.