Healthy placenta helped clone a healthy monkey

A healthy rhesus monkey has been successfully cloned and has survived for more than two years, according to international researchers who say this was achieved after providing the cloned embryo with a healthy placenta. The team analysed the difference between early stage embryos made from two reproductive technologies: those using in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and those cloned using a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer. They found abnormalities in the way genetic information can be accessed and read by the developing cloned embryo and its placenta, and in the size and shape of the placentas of cloned monkeys developing in surrogate mothers. To address these issues, the researchers developed a method to provide the developing clone embryo with a healthy placenta, successfully developing the healthy cloned monkey.

Journal/conference: Nature Communications

Link to research (DOI): 10.1038/s41467-023-43985-7

Organisation/s: University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, China

Funder: This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science
Foundation of China Grant (31825018, 82021001 to Q.S.), the National
Key Research and Development Programof China (2022YFF0710901 to
Q.S., 2018YFA0107001 and 2020YFA0804000 to F.L.), the Strategic
Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences
(XDB32060100 to Q.S. and Z.L.), the Shanghai Municipal Science and
Technology Major Project (2018SHZDZX05 to Q.S. and Z.L.), the
National Science and Technology Innovation 2030 Major Program
2021ZD0200900 and Lingang Lab (Grant LG202106-01-01 to Q.S. and
LG202106-02-01 to Y.L.), the From 0 to 1 Original Innovation Project of
the Basic Frontier Scientific Research Program of the Chinese Academy
of Sciences (ZDBS-LY-SM019 to Z.L.).

Media release

From: Springer Nature

Biology: Cloning a rhesus monkey

The successful cloning of a healthy rhesus monkey — which has survived for more than two years, after providing the cloned embryo with a healthy placenta — is reported in a Nature Communications paper. The findings advance our understanding of the mechanisms of primate reproductive cloning and may help improve its efficiency, the authors suggest.

Somatic cells in the body, such as skin cells, contain the genetic information on how an organism is built, but cannot give rise to new organisms. Somatic cell nuclear transfer technology has previously resulted in the successful cloning of various mammalian species, including ‘Dolly the sheep’ and cynomolgus monkeys. However, the efficiency of cloning most mammalian species remains extremely low, with high fetal and neonatal death rates. For the rhesus monkey, currently one study has reported a successful somatic cell clone, but the monkey did not survive after birth.

Qiang Sun and colleagues performed a comparative analysis between epigenetic datasets of monkey blastocysts derived from in vitro fertilization (IVF), and those cloned by somatic cell nuclear transfer. They identified abnormalities in the way the genetic information can be accessed and read by the developing cloned embryo and its placenta, and in the size and shape of the placentas of cloned monkeys that were developing in the surrogate mothers. To address these issues, the authors developed a method to provide the developing clone embryo with a healthy placenta. Using this approach, the scientists successfully obtained a healthy male rhesus monkey, which has now survived for more than two years.

Despite only one healthy rhesus monkey clone being reported so far using this method, the findings may prove to be a promising strategy for cloning primates in the future.

SOURCE

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