A Chinese biotech company has cloned an arctic wolf for the first timean animal listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Endangered speciesstate media reported.
The cloning, the result of two years of research, was announced 100 days after the animal’s birth by the company Sinogene Biotechnology, a wolf called ‘Maya’ that according to project managers is in good health in a laboratory of the company in Jiangsu Province (East).
The donor cell was obtained of a skin sample of a female wolf arctic of Canadian descent, the egg came from a dog whose breed is not specified, and the gestation was developed by another female dog of the Beagle breed, Sinogene’s deputy director Zhao Jianping explained.
The scientists a total of 85 embryos implanted in the wombs of seven beagle bitchesZhao noted, adding that the choice of a dog to carry 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, this is the world’s first case of arctic wolf cloning.
‘Maya’ will soon be transferred to Harbon Polarland, a theme park in Heilongjiang Province (northeast), where will not initially be included in the rest of the arctic wolves living in that place in view of the possibility of it not adapting to coexistence in a herd.
Experts quoted by the Chinese newspaper pointed out that the success of this clone project opens the door to: artificially breeding other endangered or threatened animals for survival of these species by increasing their population.
Sinogene also announced that it is planning an agreement with Beijing Wildlife Park to further research into the applications of cloning technology in the breeding and conservation of endangered wildlife.
Faced with the success of the project, other scientists have raised concerns about cloning and technical and ethical issues that suggests this kind of procedure.
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 are still there is still a lot to be researched including the potential health risks of cloned animals.
Sun also set out 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 on the verge of extinctionor that are already extinct in their wild environment and of which only captive specimens survive.
China has previously made announcements about advancements 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 in the famous sheep Dolly.
In 2019, the country was plunged into a strong controversy sparked by Chinese scientist He Jiankui, who claimed he had managed tos First babies genetically engineered to resist HIV.
The revelation and the subsequent uproar it caused prompted Chinese authorities to open an investigation leading to a… imprisonment of three years for He, who was released from prison last April.
The scandal prompted the Chinese authorities review regulations on genetic modification in humansthat now require national approval for clinical research in that area or in other ‘high-risk biomedical technologies’.
Last March, the Chinese government also published some new guidelines for reforming ethical review processes in fields such as life sciences, medicine or artificial intelligence.