Chinese scientists successfully clone monkeys for first time
In a major technological feat,... Chinese scientists have successfully cloned monkeys for the first time, by transplanting donor cells into eggs.
Scientists hope the monkeys can pave way for medical research for human diseases.
Park Soyun reports.
In a world first, Chinese researchers have cloned two healthy monkeys by using the same technique that produced Dolly the sheep two decades ago, breaking the barrier of cloning primate species.
The cloning of primates was long considered to be fundamentally more difficult than cloning other mammals such as sheep and horses.
Two monkeys named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua were born in November and December of last year at a laboratory in Shanghai after 79 attempts.
The Chinese Academy of Sciences said the procedure was technically challenging.
Scientists removed DNA-containing nucleus from monkey eggs and replaced it with DNA from the monkey fetus.
It's the first time this technology -- called somatic cell nuclear transfer -- has been used to clone non-human primates.
"In 2016, we got 127 egg cells, 109 reconstructed embryos and nearly 80 good embryos that can be used in transplant. We transplanted them into 21 monkeys, and found 6 got pregnant. Of that, two without fetal hearts aborted in the process, and another two had a gestational sac only, but we found the fetus and fetal hearts in the last two."
A researcher said the cloned monkeys will be useful to study genetic diseases, including certain types of cancers, metabolic and immune disorders.
"The barrier of cloning primate species is now overcome. In principle, any primate including humans can be cloned. But our purpose of producing cloned monkeys is purely for human benefit, for medical purposes. We see no reason to clone humans. Society, for ethical reasons, will not permit cloning of humans and this is never within our consideration, to extend that technique to humans."
This study suggests that human cloning could technically be possible in the near future, raising serious ethical concerns.
This watershed discovery will potentially lead to a brave new world of medical research and spark heated debate over cloning another primate species: humans.