File photo provided by the Chinese Academy of Sciences shows two cloned macaques named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua. [Photo: Xinhua]
The third macaque monkey cloned from somatic cells will soon be born in China, Vice Minister of Science and Technology Huang Wei revealed on Sunday.
China announced in late January that it had successfully cloned the world's first macaques from somatic cells using the same technique that led to the creation in 1996 of Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.
The two cloned macaques, named Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, were produced at the Chinese Academy of Sciences non-human primate research facility at the end of 2017.
The Chinese research team asserts that it has no plans to conduct similar research on humans, in response to public discussions about the ethical implications of the scientific breakthrough.
According to Muming Poo, co-author of the macaque study, the research was aimed at better understanding and treating human brain diseases, such as the Alzheimer's disease and autism. He says the cloning of macaques would greatly reduce the number of monkeys used for animal testing in laboratories.