BEIJING – China’s Institute of Neuroscience announced on Thursday the successful cloning of two genetically identical long-tailed macaques.
Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, born six and eight weeks ago, respectively, were made by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), the method used to create Dolly the sheep, the first cloned animal, in 1996.
The pair are the first animals since Dolly to be made by a technique whereby researchers “remove the nucleus from an egg cell and replace it with another nucleus from differentiated body cells. This reconstructed egg then develops into a clone of whatever donated the replacement nucleus,” according to the report published in the scientific journal Cell on Thursday.
“Differentiated monkey cell nuclei, compared to other mammals such as mice or dogs, have proven resistant to SCNT,” the report said.
Zhong and Hua Hua are clones of the same macaque fetal fibroblasts, a cell type in the connective tissue, which increased their chance of survival after birth.
The two baby primates were being monitored for their physical and intellectual development. They were being “bottle fed” and were growing normally for monkeys their age, the report added.
The research group expects more macaque clones to be born over the coming months.