Sinogene Biotechnology, a genetics company based in Beijing, China, has successfully cloned an Arctic wolf, also known as a white wolf. The wolf was called Maya by the scientists. The animal could contribute to the conservation of endangered species. Our science expert Martijn Peters explains.


    Sep 23 2022

    Latest update:

    Sinogenic Biotechnology

    Maya was born on June 10, but the company only released images of the animal 100 days after her birth. Maya was created using the same technique as Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned in Scotland in 1996.

    “They used a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer,” says science expert Martijn Peters. “The core of the egg cell of another animal, in this case a dog, is removed and replaced with the core of a cell from a skin sample from the Arctic wolf. That then develops into an embryo in a surrogate mother, in this case a beagle dog.”

    Complex, but promising process

    According to Peters, this is an enormously complex process with many obstacles. “Scientists have indicated that they have created 80 embryos, which were implanted into seven surrogate dogs. Only one healthy arctic dog came out of that,” says Peters. Scientists have reported that a male Arctic dog is on the way.

    What’s promising about the success of Maya cloning is that the animal could help conserve endangered species or even bring back extinct species, Peters said. “But there are also a lot of ethical and scientific questions: when will you be allowed to clone certain animals, for example, and especially how healthy are those cloned animals?”

    Some scientists have also already expressed concerns about how cloning will affect biodiversity. Maya will spend the rest of her life in captivity due to her lack of socialization.

    Maya is the first successfully cloned Arctic wolf, also known as white wolf © Sinogene Biotechnology


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