Successful Cloning of Rhesus Monkey Opens Doors to New Possibilities

Successful Cloning of Rhesus Monkey Opens Doors to New Possibilities

In a groundbreaking achievement, researchers from China’s top science academy have successfully cloned a rhesus monkey named Retro. Retro, now three years old, is the first rhesus monkey—and only the second primate species—to have been cloned and survive into adulthood.

This significant development paves the way for revolutionary advancements in studying diseases and drug efficacy. By producing identical cloned monkeys, the research team from Beijing and Shanghai can eliminate genetic variations that often interfere with experimental results. This breakthrough technique has promising applications not only in scientific research but also in human assisted reproduction.

The conventional cloning method, called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), was used in previous attempts to clone rhesus monkeys. While a live birth was achieved in 2020, the cloned monkey tragically died within twenty-four hours. The difficulty in cloning primates lies in their genetic complexity, making Retro’s successful cloning a significant milestone.

To overcome the obstacles, the research team implemented an additional step called trophoblast replacement. Trophoblasts are cells in the outer layer of an early embryo that develop into the placenta. By replacing the trophoblasts from SCNT embryos with those from in-vitro fertilized embryos, the abnormal traits observed in cloned embryos, such as thicker, calcified placentas, were eliminated.

The team’s improved cloning method resulted in Retro’s birth after transplanting eleven embryos into surrogate monkeys. Ultimately, one pregnancy reached full term, and Retro, a healthy male, was born.

While the success of cloning primates is encouraging, it is important to note the low efficiency of the SCNT process. The technique used to create Retro had an efficiency rate of less than 1%, which highlights the considerable technical challenges that still need to be resolved.

Nonetheless, this achievement opens doors for further research and exploration. With a cloned primate species in their arsenal, scientists can delve deeper into understanding diseases and potential drug interventions, bringing us closer to advancements in medicine and reproductive technologies.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

1. What is the significance of the recent achievement by researchers from China’s top science academy?
The researchers have successfully cloned a rhesus monkey named Retro, making it the first rhesus monkey and the second primate species to be cloned and survive into adulthood. This breakthrough has potential implications for the study of diseases, drug efficacy, and human assisted reproduction.

2. How does cloning identical monkeys help in scientific research?
Cloning identical monkeys eliminates genetic variations that can interfere with experimental results, allowing researchers to study diseases and test drug efficacy more accurately. This can lead to advancements in medical research and the development of new treatments.

3. What is the conventional cloning method used for cloning rhesus monkeys?
The conventional cloning method is called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT), which was previously used in attempts to clone rhesus monkeys. However, previous attempts resulted in the cloned monkey dying within twenty-four hours.

4. What was the additional step implemented by the research team to achieve successful cloning?
The research team implemented a step called trophoblast replacement to overcome the obstacles in cloning primates. Trophoblasts, cells in the outer layer of an early embryo that develop into the placenta, were replaced from SCNT embryos with those from in-vitro fertilized embryos. This helped eliminate abnormal traits observed in cloned embryos.

5. How many embryos were transplanted into surrogate monkeys in the process of cloning Retro?
Eleven embryos were transplanted into surrogate monkeys. Out of these, one pregnancy reached full term, resulting in the healthy birth of Retro, a cloned male rhesus monkey.

6. What is the efficiency rate of the cloning technique used in Retro’s creation?
The efficiency rate of the cloning technique used to create Retro was less than 1%. This highlights the technical challenges that still need to be resolved in the SCNT process.

7. How does this achievement benefit further research and exploration?
The successful cloning of a primate species opens doors for deeper research into understanding diseases and potential drug interventions. It also contributes to advancements in medicine and reproductive technologies, bringing us closer to finding new treatments and solutions.

Key Terms:
– Cloning: The process of creating an identical copy of an organism or cell.
– Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT): A cloning technique that involves transferring the nucleus of a somatic cell (body cell) into an egg cell, which is then stimulated to develop into an embryo.
– Trophoblast: Cells in the outer layer of an early embryo that develop into the placenta.
– Genetic Variations: Differences in genetic makeup that occur naturally within a species.

Related links:
National Institutes of Health
Nature
Science Daily