Scientists at a laboratory in China have cloned two monkeys using the same techniques that have been used for cloning Dolly, the sheep that was the first cloned animal.
Science versus Ethics
Identical macaques, named Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong, were born a few week ago in a laboratory in China. The scientists involved in this cloning experiment stated that genetically identical monkey will be used for research as they hope to be able to learn how to better treat human diseases.
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.
Chinese scientists, however, are sure that primates cloning will help them studying and even develop better treatments for genetically-based humans diseases that include immune disorders, metabolic disorders, and even cancer.
World’s scientists are not overwhelmed by the new cloning experiment
‘This work (…) is not a stepping-stone to establishing methods for (…) humans cloning’, said Robin Lovell-Badge, a professor at the Francis Crick Institute in London.
He further explained that the techniques involved in the monkey cloning are not at all new and are considered dangerous and inefficient.
Also, professor Griffin at the University of Kent admitted that Chinese scientists cloning experiments may indeed offer some insight on genetically-based diseases but the ethical concerns are well founded.
Dolly the sheep was the first cloned animal
20 years ago, Dolly the sheep made history as it was the first cloned animal in the world. Since Dolly, many animals have been cloned, including cats, dogs, mice, rabbits, cattle, and pigs.
The cloning techniques involve DNA transfer from a cell into an egg cell after its own DNA was eliminated. Next, the process includes the development of the embryo in the lab and its implantation into a surrogate female animal.
The Chinese cloning experiment has failed many times before
Dr. Qiang Sun, the leader of the experiment, admitted that 79 attempts preceded the success of Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong clones, but failed. Moreover, two other monkeys have been successfully cloned but failed to survive, eventually.
Dr. Sun is assuring that he and his team followed the US National Institutes of Health’s international guidelines for animal research.