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Scientists Successfully Clone Rhesus Monkey for the First Time in History


It has been more than a quarter century since Dolly the sheep became the first cloned mammal. Now, for the first time, scientists have succeeded clone rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta), a primate species known to be close to humans.

Experts in China used somatic cells, animal cells other than sperm and egg cells from rhesus monkeys to make genetically identical copies.

The clone is ‘healthy’ and has survived for more than two years since its birth in Beijing, a stark contrast to previous attempts to clone the species.

This success raises concerns that the technique will be used on humans. Experts say that human cloning cannot be justified because there are still too many ethical and security considerations.

The rhesus monkey clone was created using a technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) by Qiang Sun and colleagues at the University of Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

Quoted from Daily MailRhesus macaques are interesting because they are close to humans anatomically and physiologically and have been widely used in human health research.

“Notably, no rhesus monkey has been cloned via SNT so far,” the experts said in their paper, published in Nature Communications this week.

“We report the successful cloning of a healthy male rhesus monkey and introduce a promising strategy for primate cloning,” they wrote.

The SCNT technique takes somatic cells, such as skin cells, and transfers their DNA to egg cells whose nuclei have been removed.

Somatic cells contain genetic information about how an organism is built, but cannot produce new organisms, which is why this technique involves transferring DNA to egg cells.

If the transfer is successful, this process will lead to complete reprogramming of the genetic material within the cell nucleus and allow the egg cell to begin dividing and forming a cloned embryo, equipped with a healthy placenta to grow.

SCNT was also used to clone crab-eating macaques (Macaca fascicularis) in 2017, which were named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua.

The cloning of two identical female crab-eating macaques was carried out by the same team of Chinese scientists, led by Qiang Sun, who have now cloned rhesus monkeys.

Kloning monyet rhesus. Foto: Qiang Sun/Nature Communications

However, the cloning efficiency of most mammalian species remains very low, with high death rates while still in utero or shortly after birth.

The researchers said a previous attempt was made to clone a rhesus monkey by another team in 1997, but was unsuccessful as the creature died 12 hours after birth.

The team was successful because their efforts produced one living cloned animal from 113 initial embryos with a success rate of less than one percent.

According to Dr Lluís Montoliu, an expert at the National Center for Biotechnology in Spain who was not involved in the cloning project, the difficulty level of this experiment was very high.

“The cloning of crab-eating macaques and Rhesus monkeys shows two things,” he said.

“Firstly, primate cloning is possible, and secondly, no less important, it is very difficult to successfully carry out these experiments, with such low efficiency, once again ruling out the possibility of human cloning,” he said.

The study authors say this technique should complement the use of both primate species in biomedical research.

Since the birth of Dolly the sheep in 1996, scientists in various countries have experimented with cloning other mammals, including cows and mice in 1998, goats in 1999, pigs in 2000, cats and rabbits in 2002, mice and horses in 2003, and dog in 2005.

However, because of their genetic similarities to humans, certain scientists have the ambition to clone other primates such as chimpanzees and monkeys. This could ultimately lead to the cloning of humans or human body parts, although many experts have raised ethical concerns around this.

Dr Montoliu said human cloning was not only undisputed. If attempted, this experiment would be problematic and would not be ethically justified.

He said scientists in Europe could no longer carry out these kinds of experiments, because European Union law prohibited it, even though cloning animals for scientific research purposes was legal in the UK.

“EU legislation on animal experimentation prohibits the use of non-human primates unless the experiment is aimed at investigating serious and life-threatening diseases affecting humans or the primate species itself, which is not the case in these experiments,” Dr Montoliu said.

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2024-01-17 23:00:16
#China #Clones #Monkeys #Scientists #Warn #Create #Humans

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