Will I Be A Stem Cell's Uncle?
Steve Connor, Science Editor of Britain's Independent has broken the story of a forthcoming Nature article announcing the successful cloning of a rhesus monkey by a group led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov at the National Primate Research Center in Beaverton,Oregon.
Dr Mitalipov's group has pioneered primate egg handling techniques that avoid damaging ultraviolet light and fluorescent tags in fusing an egg with a nucleus taken from an adult primate skin cell. This has led to the creation of dozens of cloned embryos from adult monkeys, which raises the prospect of similar procedures leading to cloned human embryos despite prior efforts plagued by technical problems and charges of research fraud and questionable ethics.
The latest primate work is believed to have involved implanting about 100 cloned embryos into around 50 surrogate rhesus macaque mother , who have not yet succeed in carrying any to term. Dr Mitalipov can't comment on the Nature paper, but told colleagues at a meeting this year that tests on two batches of stem cells from 20 cloned embryos indicated they were true clones. Professor Alan Trounson of Monash University said " This is 'proof of concept' for the primate.
Professor Don Wolf, who led Mitalpov's laboratory until recently said.
"We could now produce cloned blastocysts [embryos] in the monkey at a reasonable frequency...It's possible that we're still just having bad luck. We're producing may be one in 20 or one in 30 cloned blastocysts that are 'normal' and capable of producing a pregnancy and we just haven't got them into the animal recipient at the right time to allow implantation and pregnancy to occur,"
"The focus now is going to be on therapeutic cloning and using the non-human primate as a paradigm for therapeutic cloning for what you might be able to do clinically,"