China clones two monkeys in world first

The team carrying out the research are part of the prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai expressed the sentiment that their work will serve as a contribution to medical research in the area of epidemiology. “Finally, they did it”.

Critical responses weren’t late to appear, as many voices are saying that the ethics of such experiment are questionable as such experiments are just one step behind humans cloning.

Authors of the report suggest that cloning monkeys will benefit research on human disease. Although the method has already been used to clone dozens of other animals like cats, dogs, rats and cattle, this is the first time primates have been replicated, potentially paving the way to cloning humans in the future. The scientists failed to produce healthy babies from an adult monkey, though they are still trying.

Chinese scientists have announced a new world first.

The procedure was technically challenging.

The process involved putting the fetal DNA into the eggs, which formed embryos that were then placed into two female monkeys for the remainder of the gestation period.

(Mandarin) “In 2016, we got 127 egg cells, 109 reconstructed embryos and almost 80 good embryos that can be used in transplant”. “The SCNT procedure is rather delicate”, study coauthor Mu-ming Poo, director of ION, says in a statement. “A primate model that can be generated with a known and uniform genetic background would undoubtedly be very useful in the study, understanding and ultimately treatment, of human diseases, especially those with a genetic element”.

A steady supply of research monkeys has the power to target this weakness. When the research team had managed to fuse the nucleus from the adult white sheep cell with the egg cell from the black-faced sheep, they needed to make sure that the resulting cell would develop into an embryo. Michigan State University scientist Jose Cibelli told U.S. media that continued attempts could be considered “criminal”, because the number of failed pregnancies would cause pain and potential medical problems for surrogates. But that work was done to obtain human embryonic stem cells for research. Somehow it has opened up a way that could open the door to cloning humans. That might be possible someday, but “I don’t think it should be pursued”, said researcher Dieter Egli of Columbia University. With this birth, these scientists have broken a barrier and that means the technique could, in theory, be applied to humans.

The cloning of these identical monkeys, which is the biggest breakthrough in science at the moment have generated a groundswell of public opinions, praises and condemnation in every quarters.

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua at the Chinese Academy of Sciences