Cloning 'can save pandas'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 June, 2002, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 June, 2002, 12:00am

With huge advances in technology likely in the next few decades, we may one day see giant pandas cloned with the help of rabbits and cats.

A Chinese scientist believes that cloning could soon become a feasible way of rescuing endangered species. The most serious problems of embryo formation and implantation into the wombs of other animals had already been tackled, Professor Chen Dayuan told Professor Chen said that animals from endangered species should not be used as surrogate mothers for clones, adding it was difficult to obtain living cells from such animals.

In 1999, the team developed an embryo by implanting the DNA of a giant panda into the nucleus of a rabbit's egg, the DNA of which had been removed. The team has since succeeded in implanting such embryos into the womb of cats.

A research paper on the subject would be published in the next issue of the American journal Biology of Reproduction, he said.

All that was left to be seen was if such an embryo could grow into a healthy foetus in the surrogate mothers.

It would be difficult, said Professor Chen, but possible.