First cloned wild arctic wolf born in China

A Chinese biotech company has cloned for the first time a specimen of arctic wolfan animal listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as Threatened speciesstate media reported.

The cloning, the result of two years of research, was announced by the company Sinogene Biotechnology one hundred days after the birth of the animal, a wolf called ‘Maya’ which, according to those responsible for the project is in good health in a laboratory of the firm located in the province of Jiangsu (east).

The donor cell was obtained from a skin sample of a female wolf arctic of Canadian origin, the oocyte came from a dog whose breed has not been specified and the pregnancy was developed by another female dog of the Beagle breed, explained the deputy director of Sinogene, Zhao Jianping.

The scientists implanted a total of 85 embryos in the wombs of seven beagle bitchesZhao indicated, adding that the choice of a dog to gestate the clone is due to the genetic similarities between the two species.

According to the director of the company, Mi Jidong, quoted by the official Global Times newspaper, this is the first case in the world of cloning an arctic wolf.

‘Maya’ will be transferred in some time to Harbon Polarland, a theme park in Heilongjiang province (northeast), where will not initially be incorporated into the rest of the arctic wolves that live in that place in the face of the possibility that it does not adapt to coexistence in a herd.

Experts quoted by the Chinese newspaper pointed out that the success of this cloning project opens the door to artificial breeding of other threatened or endangered animals to ensure survival of these species by increasing their population.

Sinogene also announced that it plans an agreement with the Beijing Wildlife Park to further research on the applications of cloning technology in the breeding and conservation of endangered wildlife.

Faced with the project’s success, other scientists have raised concerns about cloning and technical and ethical issues that suggests this type of procedure.

Sun Quanhui, a scientist attached to the World Organization for the Protection of Animals, told the Global Times that despite advances in cloning technology in recent years, there are still much remains to be investigated in aspects such as the possible health risks associated with cloned animals.

Sun also raised under what circumstances it is permissible to clone animals or how cloning affects biodiversity, and argued that this technique should be applied only in case of species about to become extinctor those that are already extinct in their wild environment and of which only specimens survive in captivity.

China has previously made announcements about advances in cloning technology, a field in which it has recorded milestones such as the birth in 2018 of two genetically identical primates, cloned with the same technique used with the famous Dolly the sheep.

In 2019, the country was plunged into a strong controversy generated by the Chinese scientist He Jiankui, who claimed that he had managed to creates First babies genetically engineered to resist HIV.

The revelation and the subsequent uproar it caused led the Chinese authorities to open an investigation that led to a three-year prison sentence for He, who was released from jail last April.

The scandal led the Chinese authorities to review its regulations regarding genetic modification in humanswhich now require nationwide approval for clinical research in that field or in other “high-risk biomedical technologies.”

Last March, the Chinese government also published some new guidelines for reform of ethics review processes in areas such as life sciences, medicine or artificial intelligence.

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