As announced by the Chinese researchers, two cloned monkey have entered the world this week; the cloning was possible by using the Dolly the sheep technique
Two long-tailed macaques were grown in a Petri dish, in what was the first monkey experiment of its kind.
Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua are identical twins with the same DNA. In other words, they are clones.
Developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai, the project was based on an improved method of the famous Dolly the sheep cloning procedure.
“It’s the first primate ever to be cloned. We are closer to humans than we’ve ever been before. That raises questions of where we would want to go,” commented the director of the stem cell program at Boston Children’s Hospital, Dr. Leonard Zon.
The journey of the two little monkeys began with 149 initial embryos, from which only seventy-nine survived in the lab. The embryos were transferred into surrogate monkey mothers. Only four managed to get pregnant and only two gave birth to alive fetuses: Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua. The process would have been impossible if the scientists tried cloning adult cells.
Yet the researchers have followed all international guidelines for animal research set by the National Institutes of Health, the accomplishment remains a controversial one. Nevertheless, there’s still a long way until science will produce human babies, as the technique poses many difficult problems, both technically and ethically.