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Animal cloning reached new milestones recently after Chinese scientists successfully cloned a female Arctic wolf, Newsweek reported.
The Beijing-based company, Sinogene Biotechnology, unveiled the cloned animal last month, saying it was the “first case of its kind in the world.”
The cloned wolf, Maya, is a few months old and in good health, according to the company.
The researchers explained that Maya was cloned from a controversial method known as somatic nuclear transfer (SCNT), which has been used in the past to clone other animals.
One famous example is Dolly the sheep, which was cloned in Scotland in 1996.
SCNT includes extracting the cell nucleus of a donor animal and inserting it into an egg cell that has had its chromosomes removed. This nucleus is subsequently reprogrammed to fertilize the egg, which grows into an embryo.
This is then implanted into a host animal which later gives birth to an exact clone of the original animal that donated the nucleus.
In the case of Maya, the donor cells came from a female Arctic wolf, while her surrogate mother is a female beagle.
The cloned wolf is still living in the lab and Sinogene representatives said Maya will go on to live alone as she may not adapt to the other Arctic wolf groups.
Still, some scientists suggested that SCNT could be used to preserve endangered animal species. Others, however, cautioned that the technique is still in its early stages, adding that there are still technical and ethical issues to be addressed.