Thursday, February 22

Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua: The Latest Cloning Success Story

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First Dolly the sheep in 1996, and now Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, the macaques monkeys. Recently, Chinese scientists successfully cloned these adorable monkeys. They were born less than 10 weeks ago, and as of right now are healthy. Check out some details on the cloning technique that was used, the downsides, and what’s next in cloning science technology.

 

How They Created Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua

The Chinese Academy of Sciences used the same technique that was used to clone Dolly, but monkeys are far more complex to clone than most animals. It took scientists three years to adjust the technique so it could be used to clone monkeys. The technique used is called somatic cell nuclear transfer. In layman’s terms, the scientists used connective tissue cells from monkey fetuses to clone Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua. To accomplish this, they implanted 70 embryos into 21 surrogate macaques mothers. This effort resulted in six pregnancies and one set of clones. In the future, the scientists hope they can clone a group of macaques monkeys to help further medical research. 

 

The Downsides of Cloning

Even though the cloning of these monkeys is a great accomplishment, it also came at a cost. The scientists had to experiment on 21 surrogate monkeys. At the beginning, they used adult cells instead of fetus cells to create the clones. Using only adult cells, the 181 embryos resulted in the birth and death of only two monkeys. Many in the scientific community have different opinions on the subject of whether it’s ethical to conduct tests on monkeys.

Besides the risk to animals, the cost of clone testing is high. For this macaques experiment, each successful clone roughly cost $50,000. That amount doesn’t include additional scientific costs.

 

What’s Next?

After the recent successful cloning of Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, is human cloning next? Possibly, but it will be quite risky and likely not happen for at least a few years.

The next probable step will be continued research on monkeys to help further medical research. With cloning, it allows scientists to link monkey genes to specific diseases like Parkinson’s, Autism, and Alzheimer’s. This research could lead to the creation of better medications and cures for many human diseases.

 

Cloning has come along way since Dolly in 1996. No matter what your opinion is on ethical status of cloning, this accomplishment of cloning primates is a milestone. Watch the video below to view more about Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua.  

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