More than two decades after the cloning of Dolly the sheep, Chinese scientists have successfully cloned monkeys using the same technique.
These two monkeys cloned by Chinese scientists have become the first ever primates to be cloned, bringing the prospect of cloned human beings even more closer.However, scientists have warned that there may be no good reason to create such clones.
They further said that ethical and legal questions need to be answered about such research.
The news has attracted attention around the world and triggered debate about moral and ethical standards.
Insoo Hyun of Case Western Reserves’ School of Medicine, on the contrary, said the cloning is a remarkable breakthrough.
“Monkeys are the primates closest to humans and the biggest contribution of this work is to produce non-human primate models for human disease,” noted the professor.
The two genetically identical, long-tailed macaques, named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, were successfully created from somatic cells using the same technique behind Dolly the sheep, according to an article that Chinese researchers published on the scientific journal Cell.
The process called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), involves transferring the nucleus of a cell, which includes its DNA, into an egg which has had its nucleus removed.
Genetically identical animals are useful in research because confounding factors caused by genetic variability in non-cloned animals can complicate experiments.
They could be used to test new drugs for a range of diseases before clinical use.
The two newborns are now being bottle fed and are growing normally.
The researchers said they expect more macaque clones to be born over the coming months.