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Chinese scientists just cloned two monkeys, using the same method that birthed Dolly the sheep in 1996.
Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua are the first primates cloned from a non-embryonic cell.
Barrier - Humans - Researchers - Intention - Method
"The technical barrier is now broken" for cloning humans, the researchers said, though they insisted "there is no intention to apply this method to humans."
It's still pretty difficult to successfully clone primates: it took 127 eggs to produce two live macaque births.
LONDON - Reuters - Scientists - Monkeys - Technique
LONDON (Reuters) - Chinese scientists have cloned monkeys using the same technique that produced Dolly the sheep two decades ago, breaking a technical barrier that could open the door to copying humans.
Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, two identical long-tailed macaques, were born eight and six weeks ago, making them the first primates -- the order of mammals that includes monkeys, apes and humans -- to be cloned from a non-embryonic cell.
Process - Cell - Transfer - SCNT - Nucleus
It was achieved through a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which involves transferring the nucleus of a cell, which includes its DNA, into an egg which has had its nucleus removed.
Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai said their work should be a boon to medical research by making it possible to study diseases in populations of genetically uniform monkeys.
Feasibility - Doorstep - Species
But it also brings the feasibility of cloning to the doorstep of our own species.
"Humans are primates. So (for) the cloning of primate species, including humans, the technical barrier is now broken," Muming Poo, who helped supervise the program at the institute, told reporters in a conference call.
Reason - Barrier - Models - Medicine - Health
"The reason ... we broke this barrier is to produce animal models that are useful for medicine, for human health. There is no intention to apply this method to humans."
Genetically identical animals are useful in research because confounding factors caused by genetic variability in non-cloned animals can...
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