SHANGHAI — China has cloned monkeys using transferred DNA, possibly paving the way for human cloning.
Nature reports that biologists in Shanghai have cloned two genetically identical macaques using the same technique that produced Dolly the Sheep.
Somatic cell nuclear transfer involves taking the nucleus of a cell, which contains its genetic material, and injecting it into an egg that has had its own nucleus removed.
The egg cell is then treated with enzymes to stimulate embryo development, just like a naturally fertilized egg.
In all, the researchers created 109 embryos and implanted them into 21 surrogate monkeys, resulting in six pregnancies but only two live births.
The macaques, named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, aren't the first primates to be cloned though — that distinction belongs to Tetra, a rhesus monkey created using a simpler embryo-splitting method.
The Chinese team believes the monkey clones could be useful in medical research, specifically in the study of genetic diseases like Parkinson's or autism.