History created: Scientists clone monkeys, could humans be next?

History created: Scientists clone monkeys, could humans be next?

Washington, Jan 25: Just like Dolly the sheep was cloned, scientists in China announced on Wednesday they have successfully cloned two long-tailed macaque monkeys raising the fear that could humans be next in line to be cloned.

Chinese scientists announced the birth of Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, a pair of healthy macaques who are completely genetically identical.

Compared to monkeys of their age, they are growing healthy and are being bottle fed.

The monkeys were born to surrogate macaque monkey mothers by caesarian section ten days apart, in a lab in Shanghai. They are the first primates to be cloned using tissue cells. The cloning was reported in the prestigious scientific journal Cell.

Technique used

The researchers used a cloning technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer to create the monkeys, the same technique used to clone 23 different mammal species so far, including sheep, mice, cattle, pigs, cats and dogs.

In this technique, the DNA from a single cell is inserted into a egg that has had its DNA removed. Using chemicals and other treatments, the scientists coax the DNA and egg to fuse together. A tiny amount of electricity is applied to make the egg begin dividing.

The resulting embryo is implanted into a surrogate mother of the same or a similar species. The baby is an exact genetic replicate of the animal from which the original cell was taken.

Human cloning is currently banned under international law and Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, Group Leader of the Francis Crick Institute in London, warned it would be ‘foolish’ to attempt to clone humans using the same technique.