A team of scientists in China have gotten one step closer to human cloning. CNN reports the scientists used the "same complicated cloning technique that made Dolly the sheep in 1996" to create two genetically identical long-tailed macaques. It took the scientists three years to perfect the procedure, which used cells from fetal tissues to create embryos used to impregnate female monkeys.
The scientists did not have an easy time cloning the primates. Using adult cells, they were able to successfully impregnate female monkeys 22 times, resulting in two births. Those two clones died within hours of being born.
They managed to get better results using fetal tissue. Of the six monkeys they impregnated, two resulted in live births, and those monkeys, named Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong, survived and are developing normally.
The two monkeys are very active and healthy, they progress very rapidly like human babies. Every other day, they seem more active and their motor system is much more developed and (there are) no signs of abnormality.
Other scientists cautioned that the low success rate shows more work still needs to be done to perfect the "inefficient and hazardous procedure."
The scientists hope that as they refine the method, the cloned primates can be used in medical testing and research. They believe that having genetically identically primates will open the door to cure genetic diseases and disorders. According to StatNews, senior scientist Qiang Sun said the breakthrough could help scientists "generate real models not just for genetically based brain diseases, but also cancer, immune, or metabolic disorders."