The importance of this new study, according to the researchers, is that it demonstrates the viability of producing cloned monkeys with identical genes, which would be useful as human analogues in medical research studies, [although critics may argue that this practice is unethical].
In a world-wide first, Chinese scientists cloned two monkeys by transplanting donor cells into eggs, they said on Wednesday, a feat that could lead to genetically engineered primates for drug testing, gene editing and brain research.
The Chinese lab is following global guidelines for animal research, established in cooperation with the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
"Because cloning has a failure rate of at least 90 per cent, these two monkeys represent misery and death on an enormous scale".
It was the first time scientists had been able to clone a mammal from an adult cell, taken from the udder.
They plan to use cloned monkeys to first study neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease, Poo said. In this study, we have successfully cloned cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).
While only two monkeys have been born, the long experiment could yield more baby monkeys.
To see Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua crawl over a giant Hello Kitty stuffed animal and fall over each other, you'd think they were just normal macaques - and indeed, what's special about them isn't immediately visible.
Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua are clones of the same macaque cells taken from a foetus. There could be success with cloning based on adults, too, as the team is still waiting on results from multiple pregnancies. Human cloning is illegal in about 70 countries-interestingly, though, the United States isn't one of them. For now, it has not been clearly stated that if, this method can be used for cloning the humans or not.
To be fair, though, nobody is talking about cloning humans yet.
What is most fascinating to note, however, is that the breakthrough means that it would theoretically be easier to clone a human, since primates share so much of their makeup with us. We transplanted them into 21 monkeys, and found 6 got pregnant. Unlike embryonic cells, these cells can be grown in the lab - and that allows researchers to create many clones, as well as genetically engineer the cells in a petri dish more easily.