Chinese scientists have cloned monkeys using the same technique that produced Dolly the sheep two decades ago, breaking a technical barrier that could open the door to copying humans!
Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, two identical long-tailed macaques, were born eight and six weeks ago, making them the first primates — the order of mammals that includes monkeys, apes and humans — to be cloned from a non-embryonic cell. It was achieved through a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which involves transferring the nucleus of a cell, which includes its DNA, into an egg which has had its nucleus removed.
Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai said their work should be a boon to medical research by making it possible to study diseases in populations of genetically uniform monkeys. Since Dolly – cloning’s poster child – was born in Scotland in 1996, scientists have successfully used SCNT to clone more than 20 other species, including cows, pigs, dogs, rabbits, rats and mice. Scientists at the Shanghai institute said they followed international guidelines for animal research set by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, but called for a debate on what should or should not be acceptable practice in primate cloning.