Chinese scientists have successfully cloned two monkeys. Identical long-tailed macaques Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua were cloned using the same process that produced Dolly the sheep, who was the first animal ever successfully cloned over 20 years ago.
Scientists used a non-embryonic cell in a somatic cell nuclear transfer to create an egg cell using a donor nucleus, which eventually formed the two baby monkeys. The significant achievement makes it easier to study diseases that normally plagues populations of the cloned monkeys.
But seeing as monkeys are part of the primate species, it makes the idea of cloning humans much more attainable.
“Humans are primates. So (for) the cloning of primate species, including humans, the technical barrier is now broken,” Mu-Ming Poo, the supervisor, Chinese Academy of Sciences, stated. “The reason… we broke this barrier is to produce animal models that are useful for medicine, for human health. There is no intention to apply this method to humans.”
Lots of attempts to clone primates in the past failed but the team managed despite a very low success rate. It took 127 eggs to produce Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua. But the result has the scientific community questioning the ethical implications of cloning primates.