We like the idea of clones, it seems so futuristic and reminds us of a scenario from a sci-fi movie. While human cloning is impossible at this point, scientists have successfully cloned animals.
The first and the most famous cloned mammal was Dolly, a domestic sheep cloned by Keith Cambell, Ian Wilmut and their colleagues at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. The same method was used for yet another major cloning breakthrough where scientists successfully cloned two monkeys.
Since the birth of Dolly the sheep in 1996, scientists successfully cloned a number of animals including cats, dogs, pigs, and polo ponies. What’s more, they have also created human embryos using the same method. Until now, they were unable to use this specific method to clone a primate, the category that includes monkeys, apes, and humans.
It’s important to mention that in 1998 scientists successfully created a rhesus monkey called Tetra. The method they used wasn’t the same that cloned Dolly the sheep. Tetra monkey was cloned through a simpler cloning method that produces a more limited number of offspring. Basically, scientists split the embryos similarly to the natural process when identical twins develop.
Scientists from China carried out the first of its kind experiment to clone a primate using the same method involved in the birth of Dolly the sheep. They used new and improved technology in order to improve the efficacy of the experiment. For this purpose, they used SCNT (somatic cell transfer) to reconstruct the unfertilized egg.
In order to make this happen, scientists removed the unfertilized egg’s nucleus. The nucleus is a part of the cell which contains genetic information. Then, researchers replaced it with a nucleus from another cell and stimulated it in order to develop an embryo. The newly developed embryo was transplanted into a surrogate mother.
It’s important to mention that multiple genetically matched animals can be cloned from the same cluster. For example, after Dolly, the sheep scientists cloned four other sheep from the same cluster.
What is the Importance of Cloned Monkeys?
Muming Poo of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai explained that successful cloning of two macaque monkeys means the barrier of cloning primate species has been overcome now.
Poo and his team published their findings in the journal Cell where they described the entire process of cloning two female baby monkeys named Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong. They are seven or eight weeks old.
The importance of cloned monkeys is significant for scientists. The goal is to create genetically identical monkeys for use in medical research because primates are more similar to humans than mice, rats, and other lab animals.
Although this successful cloning experiment indicates human cloning could be possible, Poo has no intention to do that. She explains that cloning human babies would be unethical and society would ban it for those reasons.
Cloning is a controversial subject. The never-ending ethical concerns have been amplified when the news about two cloned monkeys broke out. Although some scientists claim they would never approve or participate in human cloning, there’s always a possibility that someone will want to carry out an experiment to do so.
Animal welfare organizations have branded the cloning experiment as a horror. They are concerned about the lack of ethics due to the fact these animals are cloned with the purpose of experiments only.
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Scientists from China successfully cloned two female baby monkeys using the same method that cloned Dolly the sheep. The goal is to create more primates for the research purposes. Ethical concerns have been raised as well as questions about the welfare of animals that are only created so scientists can conduct experiments on them.
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