Cloning of endangered mammalian species: any progress?

Trends Biotechnol. 2007 May;25(5):195-200. doi: 10.1016/j.tibtech.2007.03.007. Epub 2007 Mar 26.


Attempts through somatic cell nuclear transfer to expand wild populations that have shrunk to critical numbers is a logical extension of the successful cloning of mammals. However, although the first mammal was cloned 10 years ago, nuclear reprogramming remains phenomenological, with abnormal gene expression and epigenetic deregulation being associated with the cloning process. In addition, although cloning of wild animals using host oocytes from different species has been successful, little is known about the implication of partial or total mitochondrial DNA heteroplasmy in cloned embryos, fetuses and offspring. Finally, there is a need for suitable foster mothers for inter-intra specific cloned embryos. Considering these issues, the limited success achieved in cloning endangered animals is not surprising. However, optimism comes from the rapid gain in the understanding of the molecular clues underlying nuclear reprogramming. If it is possible to achieve a controlled reversal of the differentiated state of a cell then it is probable that other issues that impair the cloning of endangered animals, such as the inter-intra species oocyte or womb donor, will be overcome in the medium term.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animal Welfare / trends*
  • Animals
  • Cloning, Organism / methods*
  • Cloning, Organism / trends*
  • Conservation of Energy Resources / trends*
  • Extinction, Biological*
  • Humans
  • Mammals / genetics*
  • Nuclear Transfer Techniques / trends*