The world has witnessed several revolutionary scientific breakthroughs like first double-face grafting and the birth of a healthy baby from a 24-year-old frozen embryo . Now, for the first time, after the creation of Dolly, a female domestic sheep and the first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell, researchers have used the cloning technique to develop a healthy monkey.
After the success of this project, scientists are hopeful that they can now do the same with humans as well.
Almost two dozen kinds of mammals, such as dogs, cats, mouse, rat, pigs, cows and polo ponies have been created using the clone technology since 1996. Scientists even created human embryos with this method.
However, until now, none of the scientists were able to create a primate species which includes monkeys, apes and humans for that matter, by using the same procedure.
The co-author of the study Muming Poo of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai told ABC News, "The barrier of cloning primate species is now overcome."
In the study, which was published in the journal Cell, Poo and his colleagues confirmed that they have successfully created two female macaques who have genes of old world monkeys.
These two newly created cloned female macaques are seven and eight weeks old and have been named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua.
A scientist from Oregon Health & Science University, Shoukhrat Mitalipov, who also tried to develop a cloned monkey but did not succeed, said that even though this was a long process, finally they made it.
The main objective of creating such monkeys is to develop the medical research process, as these animals are more like humans compared to other lab animals.
Poo states that cloning of humans now is theoretically possible. However, there are problems related to cloning human babies as he believes that scientists and the society might oppose to the project due to ethical reasons and his team also has no intention to proceed with the human experiment.
In terms of creating monkeys, the process is very difficult. It took 127 eggs and 79 embryos to create Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua.
Poo mentioned that these animals will help to detect and study diseases caused by certain genetic defects and can also pave way for the treatment of the same. The researchers also said that the initial target will be curing illnesses like Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Another scientist from Michigan State University called Jose Cibelli said that the creation of clone human babies might be possible in distant future but now they cannot proceed with the process as it is a criminal offence.Cibelli also said that since the process has become effective in monkeys, the society might face a dilemma in accepting the application of the same technology on humans.
However, the biomedical ethics expert, Insoo Hyun of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland said that right now due to safety concerns, federal regulators in the U.S, including international scientific groups will not allow and support the creation of clone human babies.