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China cloned world' s first primates using method that made Dolly

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Staff Writer | January 25, 2018
China announced it successfully cloned world' s first macaques from somatic cells by method that made Dolly.
first macaques
Science and technology   Macaques are closely related to humans
It makes research with customizable populations of genetically uniform monkeys a possibility.

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua were produced at the non-human-primate research facility under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) at the end of 2017. A third is due this month and more this year, said scientists. The initial research was published in the Cell.

Since Dolly the sheep was successfully cloned from an adult cell in 1997, other mammals have also been cloned, but macaques, which are closely related to humans, have been a challenge.

Sun Qiang, director of the CAS non-human-primate research facility, led a group of researchers for three years to overcome the biological difficulties.

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua are the product of somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), the technique used to create Dolly the sheep over 20 years ago.

Researchers edited genes in vitro and accurately sifted and produced somatic cells with the same genotype. They removed the nucleus from an egg cell and replaced it with another nucleus from differentiated body cells.

The reconstructed eggs produced embryos, which were put into the wombs of surrogate female monkeys, producing a group of cloned monkeys with the same genetic background.

“Humans are primates. So (for) the cloning of primate species, including humans, the technical barrier is now broken,” Muming Poo, who helped supervise the program at the institute, told reporters in a conference call.

“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.”