Mon | Feb 19, 2018

Scientists successfully clone monkeys; are humans up next?

Published:Thursday | January 25, 2018 | 12:00 AM
In this undated photo provided by the Chinese Academy of Sciences, cloned monkeys Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua sit together with a fabric toy.

NEW YORK (AP):

For the first time, researchers have used the cloning technique that produced Dolly the sheep to create healthy monkeys, bringing science an important step closer to being able to do the same with humans.

Since Dolly's birth in 1996, scientists have cloned nearly two dozen kinds of mammals, including dogs, cats, pigs, cows, and polo ponies, and have also created human embryos with this method. But until now, they have been unable to make babies this way in primates, the category that includes monkeys, apes, and people.

"The barrier of cloning primate species is now overcome," declared Muming Poo of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai.

In a paper released yesterday by the journal Cell, he and his colleagues announced that they had successfully created two macaques. The female baby monkeys, about seven and eight weeks old, are named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua.

"It's been a long road," said one scientist who tried and failed to make monkeys and was not involved in the new research, Shoukhrat Mitalipov of Oregon Health & Science University. "Finally, they did it."

Poo said that the feat shows that the cloning of humans is theoretically possible. But he said that his team has no intention of doing that. Mainstream scientists generally oppose making human babies by cloning, and Poo said society would ban it for ethical reasons.