Chinese scientists produce world's first pigs cloned entirely by robot
The team at Nankai University in Tianjin says that removing humans
from the time-consuming and complicated process has helped improve
the success rate (https://bit.ly/394fjFu). The technique could benefit
Chinese agriculture and consumers and help reduce the countrys
dependence on imported breeding stock.
Researchers in China say they have developed a process to clone pigs
entirely through the use of robots a development that may help the
worlds largest pork consumer reduce its reliance on imported
In March, a surrogate mother gave birth to seven cloned piglets
at the College of Artificial Intelligence at Nankai University in
Each step of the cloning process was automated, and no human
operation was involved, Liu Yaowei, a member of the team that
developed the system, said.
Liu added the use of robots had also increased the success rate
of the cloning process because they were less likely to damage the
cells while performing the intricate cloning process a problem
that scientists say has held back the wider use of the technique.
If it works, this automated system could be developed into a cloning
kit that any company or research institution can buy to free
scientists from labour-intensive, time-consuming manual cloning,
said Pan Dengke, a former researcher with the Chinese Academy
of Agricultural Sciences who helped produce Chinas first cloned
pig in 2005.
Pan, the founder of Clonorgan Biotechnology in Chengdu, said he
used to create more than 1,000 clones by hand every day, a process
that was so time-consuming and complicated that he developed back
pain as a result.
The most common technique to clone a viable embryo in the lab is
called somatic cell nuclear transfer a painstaking and time
consuming process conducted under a microscope.
It needs both an egg cell, or oocyte, and a body cell, also known
as a somatic cell the latter of which is taken from the animal to
be cloned. Researchers remove the nucleus from the egg cell, which
can come from another animal, and replace it with the one from the