Cloning may save extinct species
WASHINGTON (Agencies via Xinhua) _ Researchers said on Monday they had nearly succeeded in cloning an endangered species of sheep and said the experiment showed the idea is workable.
They said they produced a pregnancy using genetic material from a rare Asian sheep known as the argali, and cow's eggs.
The pregnancy failed and no sheep was born, but Kenneth White of Utah State University in Logan and colleagues there and at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Centre said they believed the technique could be perfected to try to save endangered species.
"The successful production of viable young using this approach would provide
a tremendous impact on the ability to regenerate animal numbers in these species," they wrote in the first issue of a new journal, Cloning.
Cloning is being used now mostly by laboratories trying to produce specialized animals for agricultural uses or medical research. However, one proposed benefit has been the use of cloning technology to breed endangered species.
"Species extinctions have occurred since life began on Earth, but human
activities are causing the loss of biological diversity at an unprecedented rate," White's team wrote.
"Cells from endangered or threatened species can be cryopreserved (frozen)
and maintained in what has been referred to as the 'frozen zoo' and then later used as nuclear donors for cloning purposes."
Argali sheep have several subspecies, including the Altai sheep, Marco Polo's sheep and Tibetan sheep. They used Altai sheep and fertilized the egg by nuclear transfer technology _ the same technique used by Ian Wilmut and his colleagues at Scotland's Roslin Institute to make Dolly the sheep, the first cloned mammal.
Gina "Nanogirl" Miller
"Nanotechnology: solutions for the future."