The cloning, the result of two years of research, was announced by the company Sinogene Biotechnology 100 days after the birth of the animal, a wolf called “Maya”, which, according to the project managers, is in good health in a laboratory of the company in the province. Jiangsu in eastern China.
The donor cell was obtained from a skin sample from a female Arctic wolf of Canadian origin, the ovum came from a dog whose breed is not specified, and the gestation was developed by another female Beagle dog, said Sinogene’s deputy director Zhao Jianping .
Scientists implanted a total of 85 embryos in the wombs of seven Beagle bitches, Zhao said, adding that the choice of a dog to receive the clone is due to the genetic similarities between the two species.
According to company director Mi Jidong, quoted by the official newspaper: Global timesit 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 initially the rest of the Arctic wolves living there will not be included due to the possibility that it will not adapt to coexistence of herds.
Experts quoted by the Chinese newspaper pointed out that the success of this cloning project opens the door to the artificial reproduction of other animals in danger or in danger of extinction 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.
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 associated with the World Organization for the Protection of Animals, told the Global Times that despite advances in cloning technology in recent years, much remains to be explored in aspects such as the potential 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 are already on the brink of extinction. extinct in their wild environment and of the only specimens surviving in captivity.
Primates, police dogs and even manipulated babies
China has made previous announcements of advances in cloning technology, an area where it has seen milestones such as the birth of two genetically identical primates in 2018, cloned using the same technique used on the famous Dolly the 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 Sinogene company, copied the “excellent genes” of these types of animals and reduced the time and cost of their training, said researchers familiar with the program at the time.
But in 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 human genetic modification, 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.
rml (ef, @globaltimes)