For the first time in history, two macaques have been successfully cloned by Chinese researchers after years of effort. The technique used by the researchers was the same method used to clone Dolly the sheep more than two decades ago. So why are scientists making a fuss about this? To begin with, cloning primates has opened new doors in the biomedical field and shown that cloning humans is not far from becoming a reality.
The method used, known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, involves the removal of DNA from an animal cell like a skin cell, muscle cell, or any other cells and carefully placing it into an egg. This method theoretically can produce an indefinite amount of clones from a single donor. DNA in a fully developed animal cell however, is often bunched up, spooled, and tagged to express specific genes. It therefore differs from a young embryo DNA which makes somatic cell nuclear transfer much more complicated than plunging DNA into an embryo. This is why this new discovery is a breakthrough in the scientific field. The researchers were able to use multiple techniques to wind back the DNA clock allowing it to resemble DNA from an embryo.
This research however brings forth a new set of complications to the table. The ethical aspects of cloning humans is a matter that bioethicists are urged to discuss more internationally. Is human cloning necessary for us currently and how can we prevent this new discovery from being misused by groups around the world?