The Arctic wolf is an animal that has been listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and its cloning has sparked an ethical and technical debate.
A Chinese biotech company announced the cloning of a copy of Arctic Wolfan animal listed as an endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, state media reports.
The cloning, the result of two years of research, was announced by the company Sinogenic Biotechnology one hundred days after the birth of the animal called a wolf “Maya”.
According to the project managers, Maya is in good health in a company laboratory in the province Jiangsuin eastern China.
How was the Arctic wolf cloned?
The donor cell was obtained from a skin sample from a female Arctic wolf of Canadian descent, the ovum was obtained from a dog whose breed was not specified, and the gestation was developed by another female dog of the breed brokeexplains Sinogene Deputy Director Zhao Jianping.
The scientists implanted a total of 85 embryos in the wombs of seven Beagle bitchesZhao pointed out, adding that the choice of a dog to get the clone is due to the genetic similarities between the two species.
According to company president Mi Jidong, quoted by the official Global Times newspaper, It is the world’s first case of arctic wolf cloning.
“Maya” will be transferred to . in some time Port Polarlanda theme park in Heilongjiang Province (northeast), where the rest of the arctic wolves living there will initially not be included due to the possibility that it will not adapt to living together in a pack.
Experts quoted by the Chinese newspaper pointed out that the success of this clone project opens the door to artificial reproduction of other endangered or threatened animals to ensure the survival of these species by increasing their population.
Sinogene also announced that it is planning an agreement with Beijing Wildlife Park to continue research into the applications of cloning technology in breeding and preserving endangered wildlife.
Beijing-based gene company Sinogene Biotechnology & Harbin Polarland announced on Monday the successful cloning of the world’s first wild Arctic wolf. The wolf is now 100 days old and in good health. pic.twitter.com/BrhHeqA3tu
— Global Times (@globaltimesnews) September 19, 2022
Technical and ethical concerns
Faced with the success of the project, other scientists have raised concerns about cloning and the technical and ethical problems associated with these types of procedures.
Sun Quanhui, a scientist with the World Organization for the Protection of Animals, told the Global Times that despite advances in cloning technology in recent years, There is still much to be researched, including the possible health risks of cloned animals.
Sun also suggested under what circumstances it is allowed to clone animals or how cloning affects biodiversity, arguing that this technique should only be applied in the case of species that are on the brink of extinction, or that are already extinct. are in the wild and of the only specimens survive in captivity.
Primates, police dogs and even manipulated babies
China has already made previous announcements about advances in cloning technology, an area in which it has recorded milestones such as the 2018 birth of two genetically identical primates cloned using the same technique used with the famous dolly sheep And online pet cloning services (cats, dogs and horses) are offered.
In 2019, China’s Xinhua news agency released images of Kunxun, the country’s first cloned police dog, made from a 7-year-old female dog. This program, also developed by the company Sinogene, copied the “excellent genes” of this type of animal and reduced the time and cost of their training, said researchers familiar with the program at the time.
The Story of He Jiankui
But that same 2019, the country was plunged into a strong controversy generated by Chinese scientist He Jiankui, who claimed he had succeeded in creating the first genetically engineered babies to resist HIV.
The revelation and the ensuing uproar prompted Chinese authorities to open an investigation leading to a three-year prison term for He, who was released from prison last April.
The scandal prompted Chinese authorities to review their regulations on genetic engineering in humans, which now require national approval for clinical research in that field or in other “high-risk biomedical technologies.”
Last March, the Chinese government released new guidelines to reform ethical review processes in areas such as life sciences, medicine or artificial intelligence.