To answer this question, the scientists in China have successfully, cloned monkeys using the cloning techniques. All the same, previous attempts to clone any primates via this method have not progressed onto the blastocyst stage.
According to a report in the peer-reviewed journal, Cell, the scientists cloned the two macaque monkeys using an optimized version of the technique somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT) - the same technique used to create Dolly.
Zhong Zhong is eight weeks old, and Hua Hua is six weeks old.
"Humans are primates", Poo said.
Although a primate has been cloned before, Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua are the first using SCNT - which can theoretically produce an indefinite number of clones from a single donor. "In principle, that can be applied to humans".
Prof Darren Griffin of the University of Kent said the approach may be useful in understanding human diseases, but raised ethical concerns. Human cloning is illegal in about 70 countries-interestingly, though, the United States isn't one of them.
Experiments involving primate cloning began in the early 2000s. Scientists cloned them from a non-embryonic cell through a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer, Reuters reported. That new cell then grows and multiplies to the point where it can be implanted into a female of the species where, if all goes well, it eventually forms a viable fetus. In this method, researchers take an egg cell, or oocyte, and remove its nucleus (which holds its DNA).
As mentioned above, discovering a technique to create a monkey clone is a major step forward for science, but it also has the potential for abuse.
Four pregnancies resulted, but there were two miscarriages within two months of gestation. The monkeys are named Hua Hua and Zhong Zhong, and are reportedly healthy and living in an incubator. They are cared for by humans, and actively play with each other, Poo said.
Dolly was the first mammal to be cloned using SCNT, but she certainly wasn't the last. But until now they've been unable to do it in primates, a group that includes monkeys and people.
Senior author Qiang Sun, Director of the Nonhuman Primate Research Facility at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neurosciences informed that they tried many different methods, but only one worked.
Apparently, the two newborn monkeys are now being bottle-fed and are growing normally.
Dolly made history in 1997 after being cloned at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh.
"There will be rapid development in this field", Sun said. "There was much failure before we found a way to successfully clone a monkey". Somehow it has opened up a way that could open the door to cloning humans. "This is really, I think, a breakthrough for biomedicine".
The fact that the process required fetal cells is another barrier to human cloning, Greely added. Whether or not you mind cloning based on fetuses, the process now requires many failures to get to the intended results. "You'd want to clone somebody who's lived, who you know, who has traits you like".