Scientists have cloned monkeys using the same process that saw Dolly the Sheep make headlines back in 1996.
CNN reports that while they’re not the first cloned monkeys to make history – that honour goes to rhesus monkey Tetra, created in 1999 – they are the first that are the result of the same process that was used to create Dolly.
The two genetically identical long-tailed macaques, Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong, are the product of a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). It involves scientists reconstructing an unfertilized egg, rather than simply splitting an embryo, as was the case with Tetra – which utilised a process similar to the naturally occurring splitting of an embryo that produces identical twins.
Scientific peers not affiliated with the experiment say that the limited success rate indicates that there’s a long way to go to perfect the technique.
Robin Lovell-Badge, an embryologist and head of the Division of Stem Cell Biology and Developmental Genetics at the Francis Crick Institute, said, “While they succeeded in obtaining cloned macaques, the numbers are too low to make many conclusions, except that it remains a very inefficient and hazardous procedure.”
Darren Griffin, a professor of genetics at the University of Kent, said that the study was “very impressive technically,” but that “careful consideration now needs to be given to the ethical framework under which such experiments can, and should, operate.”
For now, we’re one step closer to Charlton Heston taking on monkey men who want to make slaves of humanity.
Shabana is a freelance writer who enjoys JRPGs, wine, and not finishing games. Follow her on Twitter.