Near the end of January, newborn monkeys Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua built their debut as the first primate clones induced employing a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer — the same process which created Dolly the sheep more than 20 years ago.
The identical long-tailed macaques were born in November and December at the Chinese Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai. Scientist Qiang Sun, director of the Nonhuman Primate Research Facility, says “there was much failure before we observed a lane to successfully clone a monkey” by removing the nucleus from an egg cell and replacing it with that of donor cells from an aborted fetus.
The births of Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua have widely been regarded as a huge scientific advancement , opening hours the possibility for experimentations on large numbers of genetically identical monkeys. They’d render more accurate simulates for research surrounding human diseases.
Sun says “This will generate real frameworks not just for genetically based brain cancers, but likewise cancer, immune, or metabolic ailments and allow us to test the efficacy of the drugs for these conditions before clinical use.”
Understandably, this has raised ethical concerns, particularly about human cloning. What isn’t mentioned as much are the animals who suffered throughout the process of the creation of Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua — and how much the baby monkeys will suffer themselves.