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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.

Researchers in Texas have cloned a domestic cat, producing a two-month-old kitten called CopyCat.
The work is described in the scientific journal Nature and is the first time anyone has cloned a pet.

CopyCat, or Cc for short, is a copy of her genetic mother, not of the tabby surrogate cat that actually gave birth to her.

The cloned cat "appears healthy and energetic", say researchers at Texas A & M University.

The Texas laboratory has already cloned a pig, bull and goat. Work is underway to clone a dog.

Mark Westhusin, a member of the cloning team, said there were serious scientific reasons for cloning a cat.

Dr Westhusin said: "Cats have a feline AIDS that is a good model for studying human AIDS."

April 28, 1999 - Toronto - CP

Montreal scientists have cloned triplet goats in what is believed to be a world first. The goats -- Danny, Clint and Arnold -- are a month old and living on a farm west of Montreal run by Nexia Biotechnologies Inc., the company announced today. The goats were produced using nuclear transfer, a technique similar to the one used to produce Dolly the sheep, the first cloned animal. Dolly, born in early 1997 in Scotland, originated from a cell extracted from an adult sheep, making her a replica of a sheep six years older. Work to produce the identical goats started eight months ago, said Jeffrey Turner, Nexia's president and a former genetics professor at McGill University.

The goats originated from cells transferred from the body of one goat into another goat's mature fertilized eggs. The eggs had their original nuclei, or DNA, removed and replaced by DNA derived from cells grown in the laboratory. The research involving the goats will be used to develop man-made spider silk for medical uses, said Turner. After tracking the health of the goats for a few months, scientists plan to use the cloning process again. Next time, they will inject the silk gene from spiders into the cells that will produce new cloned goats, said Turner.

In late November a humble Iowa cow is slated to give birth to the world's first cloned endangered species, a baby bull to be named Noah. Noah is a gaur: a member of a species of large oxlike animals that are now rare in their homelands of India, Indochina and southeast Asia. These one-ton bovines have been hunted for sport for generations. More recently the gaur's habitats of forests, bamboo jungles and grasslands have dwindled to the point that only roughly 36,000 are thought to remain in the wild. The World Conservation Union–IUCN Red Data Book lists the gaur as endangered, and trade in live gaur or gaur products--whether horns, hides or hooves--is banned by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
But if all goes as predicted, in a few weeks a spindly-legged little Noah will trot in a new day in the conservation of his kind as well as in the preservation of many other endangered species. Perhaps most important, he will be living, mooing proof that one animal can carry and give birth to the exact genetic duplicate, or clone, of an animal of a different species. And Noah will be just the first creature up the ramp of the ark of endangered species that we and other scientists are currently attempting to clone: plans are under way to clone the African bongo antelope, the Sumatran tiger and that favorite of zoo lovers, the reluctant-to-reproduce giant panda. Cloning could also reincarnate some species that are already extinct--most immediately, perhaps, the bucardo mountain goat of Spain. The last bucardo--a female--died of a smashed skull when a tree fell on it early this year, but Spanish scientists have preserved some of its cells


May 31, 1999 - AP - Wash.

The small club of clones, restricted until now to females like Dolly the sheep and Cumulina the mouse, has gone co-ed with the cloning of a male mouse, researchers said on Monday.

"Fibro" is also the first documented, live mammal cloned from adult cells that do not originate in the reproductive system, which suggests that adult animals can be cloned from any cell in the body at all.

Ryuzo Yanagimachi and Teruhiko Wakayama at the University of Hawaii say the technique is still tricky -- they only got one living mouse out of 274 tries -- but Fibro seems healthy and normal.

"He fathered two perfectly normal litters as of Monday (Thursday)," Yanagimachi said in an interview conducted by e-mail. "He is active and healthy."

Male animals have been cloned before, but only using fetal cells, which are much easier to clone because of their early stage of development.

A Japanese agricultural research institute also said it cloned a calf from the ear of an adult, but the research was not published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal -- the standard for science.

It is much harder to clone animals from adult cells -- Dolly, some Japanese heifers and Cumulina, the cloned mouse presented to the world by Yanagimachi and Wakayama last year, are rare examples.

They were made using cells related to reproduction -- Dolly from the mammary gland cell of a ewe and Cumulina from so-called cumulus cells, which nurture developing eggs inside the ovaries.

So many scientists had believed that there might be something unique about females, or perhaps even female reproductive cells, that made them amenable to cloning.

Wakayama and Yanagimachi, writing in the journal Nature Genetics, said it is now clear this is not the case. "Our results demonstrate that cloning using adult somatic cells is not restricted to female or reproductive cells," they wrote.

Using their "Honolulu technique", which differs slightly from the method that scientists in Scotland used to make Dolly, they created 274 mouse embryos using skin clipped from the tail of a male mouse and implanted them into surrogate mother mice.

"Only three of 274 transferred embryos reached full term," they wrote. "Three mice from tail-tip cells were born alive, all of them males with black eyes." Two died but one lived to adulthood and was the same reddish-brown color as the mouse whose tail was clipped.

The experiment means it might be possible to store an animal's complete genome, its collection of genes, using a tail snip or other cell instead of having to freeze an embryo, the researchers said. "Moreover, precious animals of either sex, for example endangered species and transgenic animals, can be propagated by cloning irrespective of their fertility status."

Much of the cloning research going on is part of commercial and scientific programs to create genetically engineered, or transgenic, animals. Mice are bred to carry human genes, for example, so that drugs can be tested on them.

PPL Therapeutics, the commercial arm of the Scottish laboratory where Dolly was made, breed animals that produce human proteins in their blood or milk and has teamed up with Geron to try to breed transgenic pigs whose organs contain human proteins for use in transplants.

Genetic engineering is hit-and-miss but researchers say they can create an animal that carries and expresses the genes just the way they want, and then clone it to get exact copies.