Cloning Bears

Cloned cow bears calf in Japan

July 10, 2000 - Associated Press

A cloned cow gave birth to a calf conceived by artificial insemination at a research center in northwestern Japan on Monday, showing that cloned cows can reproduce.

The newborn, a female weighing 58.3 pounds, is the world's first reported example of a calf being born to a cloned cow, said Koichi Yamamoto, deputy director of the Ishikawa Prefectural Center for Animal Husbandry and Research, 190 miles northwest of Tokyo.

"This is very significant in showing a cloned cow can give birth and shows maternal instincts," Yamamoto said. He said the newborn calf, which still doesn't have a name, is healthy and suckling from its mother.

The center in Japan has succeeded in creating five clones, using cells around a cow's ovary. All five clones underwent artificial insemination, and so far two of them have gotten pregnant.

One of them - Kaga No. 2, born in 1998 - gave birth Monday. Another, called Nodo No. 2, is expected to give birth in September, Yamamoto said.

He said the new calf isn't a clone but a half-clone.

A clone is made from the genetic material of only one animal, instead of two. To produce a clone, scientists remove the genetic material from an animal's egg and replace it with the nucleus of a cell from the animal to be cloned. The egg is then encouraged to divide in a lab until it becomes an embryo, when it is implanted in the womb of another animal.

Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell in 1996, was the first to prove that clones can breed normally and produce healthy offspring. She conceived the natural way and gave birth to Bonnie in 1998, and then triplets in 1999. The scientists who created Dolly in Scotland have detected no defects in her lambs.

The use of artificial insemination in the calf's birth does not mean the cloned cow cannot conceive naturally with a bull in a field, Colman said. He said artificial insemination is a common practice cattle breeders use for convenience and control.

Since Dolly, scientists have produced clones from adult cows, goats, mice and pigs.

Sheep are now being genetically modified to carry human medicines in their milk. Such sheep could be cloned to produce large supplies of medicine.

Japanese researchers are eager to perfect cloning in cows because of the nation's market for expensive high-quality beef.

First Giant Panda Embryo Successfully Cloned

June 22, 1999 - BBC Online

Giant pandas are notoriously reluctant to reproduce

Chinese scientists say they have successfully cloned an embryo of a giant panda, and are hoping that it will now develop to maturity.

They are hailing it as a possible breakthrough in their efforts to save one of the world's most endangered species.

Only about 1,000 pandas live in the wild, with another 100 in zoos. They are notoriously reluctant to reproduce, and experts have warned that the animal could be extinct within 25 years. The state-run Xinhua news agency said researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences introduced cells from a dead female panda into the egg cells of a white rabbit.

The embryo was nurtured over 10 months and scientists are now trying to implant it in a host animal's uterus.

Dolly-inspired programme

For many years the Chinese authorities have been seeking ways of saving the species, but pandas produced through artificial insemination have often died young.

The successful cloning of Dolly the sheep in Britain in 1996, using cells from an adult animal, prompted China's Academy of Sciences to launch an official project to clone a giant panda.

The man in charge of the project, Professor Chen Dayuan, told the BBC at the time that he was hopeful of success within three to five years.

The Xinhua news agency quotes Prof. Chen as saying his team now believed they would not need so long.

Human embryos

Last Thursday, further details were announced in the US of the first cloned human embryos.

The intention behind the work, say researchers at Advanced Cell Technology, is not to make identical people but to create embryonic stem cells.

These cells have the potential to become any tissue in the body and scientists believe they will eventually lead to powerful new treatments for a host of medical conditions, including diabetes and Parkinson's Disease.