Scientists from the Institute of Neuroscience at the Chinese Academy of Sciences have successfully cloned primates, only the second time in the world. And in a first, the two long-tailed macaque monkeys were cloned by somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), the same technique used to clone the world’s first cloned animal, Dolly the sheep.
The two genetically identical macaques were born two weeks apart, in late November and December. The elder one is called Hua Hua and the younger Zhong Zhong, named after the Chinese adjective “Zhōnghuá” (it means Chinese nation or people in Mandarin). Researchers said it would now be possible to conduct research in laboratories using genetically uniform monkeys.
A rhesus monkey called Tetra was the first primate to be cloned, in 1999, but that procedure — embryo splitting — was a simpler method than SCNT. Similar to how twins are born, that method can produce a maximum of four clones at a time. But in SCNT, the nucleus of an egg cell is replaced with a nucleus from differentiated cells, and the egg develops into a clone of whatever creature the other nucleus came from. This process makes it possible to have multiple clones of the same creature.