Move over, Dolly: Monkeys cloned; a step closer to people?

26 January, 2018, 02:40 | Author: Inez Murphy
  • Chinese Academy of Sciences cloned monkeys Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua sit together with a fabric toy. For the first time researchers have used the cloning method that produced Dolly the sheep to create two healthy monk

The researchers overcame a big hurdle to cloning in primates by manipulating the genes of the newly created clone egg, turning on and off any genes that would inhibit embryo development. "There is no intention to apply this method to humans".

The Vatican has constantly condemned human cloning, for either therapeutic or reproductive purposes.

But critics say the work raises ethical concerns by bringing the world closer to human cloning. For now, Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, who are bottle-fed, are being monitored for their physical and intellectual development, and are showing normal growth for monkeys their age.

He called for an global ban on the cloning and genetic engineering of humans.

Yet the claims made by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai that the process will be a boon for medical science was condemned tonight by the worldwide animal welfare group, PETA UK.

Their names are Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, born eight and six weeks ago, respectively.

The milestone is technically not the first time monkeys are being cloned in a lab. They have even created human embryos with the same technique.

Arnold Kriegstein, director of the stem cell center at the University of California at San Francisco said "It's a significant advance". All the same, previous attempts to clone any primates via this method have not progressed onto the blastocyst stage.

Joaquin Pinela shows a flyer he received when checking out after shopping at a Babies R Us store in New York's Union Square Wednesday Jan. 24 2018. Toys R Us which owns Babies R Us has been squeezed

The first primate clones made by somatic cell nuclear transfer are two genetically identical long-tailed macaques born recently at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai.

Since Dolly was born, researchers have cloned 23 mammal species, including cattle, cats, deer, dogs, horses, mules, oxen, rabbits and rats. It was also only successful in transferring nuclei from fetal cells, not adult cells such as the ones Dolly was cloned from. The cloning technique is also expensive and not very efficient - over 70 embryos were implanted in 21 surrogate mothers. But that technique, referred to as "artificial twinning", could only generate four offspring at a time and may not ultimately result in genetically identical animals.

"Unless they get better at this, I don't think this will be very important", he said.

They are monitoring the physical and mental growth of both Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua. The two newborns are now bottle fed. Thus, cloning macaque monkeys by SCNT is feasible using fetal fibroblasts.

Until now, attempts to carry out the same process in primates have proved hard because of the far more complicated process of cell division and early development.

According to him, the ultimate goal is to clone monkeys on a large scale for use as test subjects due to their similarities to humans.

The study was published online January 24 in Cell.

Cloning requires specialized technicians, state of the art equipment, and many animals to work with. 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. So, for now, it is now possible to cone human.

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