The Stanwich Post

  • EDITION VIII. Issue 3.

‘Cc’ the Primates: Monkeys Cloned in China

Ted Frascella, Reporter

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NEWSROOM –  In late January, scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute in Shanghai were the first to use nuclear transfer to clone primates, in this case, long tailed macaques named Huahua and Zhongzhong (their names together “Zhonghua” mean “Chinese Nation”).  This is a huge step forward in the field of genetic duplication.

The process of nuclear transfer isn’t new.  In 1996, “Dolly” the sheep became the first successfully cloned mammal using this technique.  However, nuclear transfer had never been successfully used to clone primates, until Huahua and Zhongzhong.

According to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, nuclear transfer is done by,

“Removing the nucleus from a healthy egg.  This egg becomes the host for a nucleus that is transplanted from another cell, such as a skin cell.  The resulting embryo can be used to generate embryonic stem cells with a genetic match to the nucleus donor (therapeutic cloning), or can be implanted into a surrogate mother to create a cloned individual, such as Dolly the sheep (reproductive cloning).”

This form of reproductive cloning using the nucleus from one cell in the cell of another results in genetically identical copies of the organism.  Although hundreds of simpler animals have been cloned in this manner, this previously was not successful for primates, as they proved too complex.  So far, Zhongzhong and Huahua seem to be happy, healthy, and without any physical or mental defects.

Mrs. Hubertus, AP Biology teacher, shared the implications of a successfully cloned primate.

“This is really exciting, being able to clone something as complicated as a primate and as similar to humans as they are, it can help us understand human genetics to a much higher degree.”

The successful cloning of primates is a big step in mastering cloning and genetic engineering.  It will allow scientists to study genetic diseases in humans more effectively and more accurately.  However, it does leave the door open to questions about the ethics of cloning, most obviously, should humans ever be cloned?  In a statement to Chinese press, the Director at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mu-ming Poo, said,

“Human cloning is not our intention.  I would think society and the general public and governments will not allow extension of this method from nonhuman primates to humans.”

While human cloning does not seem likely in the near future, some other applications and alternatives to this practice could be used to help repopulate endangered species or even bring long extinct ones back to life.  The future of cloning holds endless possibilities.

Story by Ted Frascella, Reporter

Edited by Maeve Sebold, Editor in Chief

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‘Cc’ the Primates: Monkeys Cloned in China