World’s first cloned Artic wolf born in China in process that implanted the embryo in a beagle
An arctic wolf has been cloned for the first time by a Beijing-based gene company that took a donor cell from a wild female arctic wolf and combined it with an embryo grown inside a beagle, which shares genetic ancestry with ancient wolves, to ensure the process was successful.
The pup, named Maya, was born in June, but Singogen Biotechnology waited to announce her birth until she was 100 days old with the hope that the clone would be in good health, and she is.
Arctic wolves are not endangered like other breeds, but Singogen hopes to use this process to save other species at risk of extinction.
Although this is a scientific breakthrough, animal cloning is met with controversy, as activists say the animals involved suffer from surgeries necessary to obtain donor cells and transfer embryos.
Maya was born in June, but the company waited 100 days to show her to the world to make sure she was healthy
Another argument against the process that some see to produce animals by cloning is whether this technique violates a moral prohibition, such as people ‘playing God’ by producing embryos without using fertilization.
The other side of the argument believes that animal cloning is a way to save species on the brink of extinction.
Regardless, Maya is considered a milestone in the application of cloning technology.
She was created through the same technique behind Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned in Scotland in 1996, which is called somatic cell nuclear transfer.
However, Dolly was euthanized at the age of six when it was found that she had a lung tumor.
Right now, Maya is said to be in good health and exhibiting the behavior of a traditional arctic wolf pup.
The puppy was born in a process that took a donor cell from a wild arctic she-wolf and combined it with an embryo grown inside a beagle, which shares genetic ancestry with ancient wolves, to ensure the process was successful
Sinogene Biotechnology general manager Mi Jidong told Global Times: ‘We started the research collaboration with Harbin Polarland on cloning the arctic wolf in 2020.
‘After two years of painstaking efforts, the arctic wolf was successfully cloned. It is the first case of its kind in the world.’
The company began this quest by constructing 137 new embryos from enucleated (process of removing the nucleus from a cell) oocytes, which is a cell in an ovary, and somatic cells, followed by the transfer of 85 embryos into the wombs of seven beagles – and a birth Maya.
The genetics company behind the project wants to research how to preserve animals that are more vulnerable than Maya’s colleagues.
However, there is still a long road ahead of them. “It is relatively easier to clone dogs and cats,” Jidong said.
‘We will continue to work in this area. In the next step we can clone rare wild animals other than dogs or cats … and it will be more difficult.’
But some in the scientific community have expressed concerns, particularly about the health of cloned animals and how cloning will affect biodiversity.
Maya, on the other hand, is destined to spend the rest of her life in captivity due to her lack of socialization.
She was created through the same technique behind Dolly the sheep (pictured), the first mammal cloned in Scotland in 1996, which is called somatic cell nuclear transfer. However, Dolly was euthanized at the age of six when it was found that she had a lung tumor
The genetics company behind the project wants to research how to preserve animals that are more vulnerable than Maya’s colleagues
Animal cloning has been the holy grail of scientists since before Dolly, but now it’s becoming a way to revive species that have since disappeared from Earth.
In March, researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz announced that they had sequenced the entire genome of the dodo bird for the first time.
The flightless three-foot-tall dodo was wiped out in the 17th century, just 100 years after it was discovered on the island of Mauritius.
And in the same month, it was announced that researchers at the University of Melbourne are working to bring the Tasmanian tiger back to life by recreating the extinct species in the hope that it can be reintroduced into the wild.
The laboratory will develop technologies that can achieve the de-extinction of the thylacine, commonly known as the Tasmanian tiger.
Scientists have already sequenced the thylacine genome, which has provided a blueprint for “how to essentially build a thylacine,” said Andrew Pask, head of the Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research Lab.
That embryo would then be transferred to a host surrogate womb, such as a dunnart or Tasmanian devil.