Just Monkey Business? – ConspiracyOz

Monkeys have been cloned in a lab in China and humans could be next

www.abc.net.au

25th Jan 2018

MonkeyClone

Chinese scientists have cloned monkeys using the same technique that produced Dolly the Sheep two decades ago, breaking a technical barrier that could open the door to copying humans.

Key points:

  • Monkeys growing normally and being bottle-fed
  • First primates to be cloned from a non-embryonic cell
  • One expert says procedure is “inefficient and hazardous”

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, two identical long-tailed macaques, were born eight and six weeks ago, making them the first primates — the order of mammals that includes monkeys, apes and humans — to be cloned from a non-embryonic cell.

It was achieved through a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which involves transferring the nucleus of a cell, which includes its DNA, into an egg which has had its nucleus removed.

Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai said their work should be a boon to medical research by making it possible to study diseases in populations of genetically uniform monkeys.

But it also brings the feasibility of cloning to the doorstep of our own species.

“Humans are primates. So [for] the cloning of primate species, including humans, the technical barrier is now broken,” said Muming Poo, who helped supervise the program at the institute.

“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.”

A cloned monkey has its fingers in its mouth while playing with a soft toy.
Photo: Researchers expect more macaque clones like Zhong Zhong to be born soon. (AP: Sun Qiang and Poo Muming/Chinese Academy of Sciences)

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.

Warnings against procedure used

Since Dolly — cloning’s poster child — was born in Scotland in 1996, scientists have successfully used SCNT to clone more than 20 other species, including cows, pigs, dogs, rabbits, rats and mice.

Similar work in primates, however, had always failed, leading some experts to wonder if primates were resistant.

Photo: Chinese scientists in Shanghai cloned the monkeys Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua. (AP: Sun Qiang and Poo Muming/Chinese Academy of Sciences)

The new research, published on Wednesday in the journal Cell, shows that is not the case.

The Chinese team succeeded, after many attempts, by using modulators to switch on or off certain genes that were inhibiting embryo development.

Even so, their success rate was extremely low and the technique worked only when nuclei were transferred from foetal cells, rather than adult ones, as was the case with Dolly.

In all, it took 127 eggs to produce two live macaque births.

“It remains a very inefficient and hazardous procedure,” said Robin Lovell-Badge, a cloning expert at the Francis Crick Institute in London, who was not involved in the Chinese work.

“The work in this paper is not a stepping-stone to establishing methods for obtaining live-born human clones.

“This clearly remains a very foolish thing to attempt.”

Media player: “Space” to play, “M” to mute, “left” and “right” to seek.

The research underscores China’s increasingly important role at the cutting edge of biosciences, where its scientists have at times pushed ethical boundaries.

Three years ago, for example, researchers at Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou caused a furore when they reported carrying out the first experiment to edit the DNA of human embryos, although similar work has now been done in the United States.

Scientists at the Shanghai institute said they followed international guidelines for animal research set by the US National Institutes of Health, but called for a debate on what should or should not be acceptable practice in primate cloning.

Reuters

Advertisements

Posted on January 28, 2018, in ConspiracyOz Posts. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: