Iranian scientists clone mouflon with sheep as surrogate mother
According to Nasr-Esfahani, researchers at Royan first took some cells from a wild Isfahan mouflon — or ovis orientalis isphahanica — through biopsy, inserted the cells into the unfertilized eggs of a domestic sheep, and then the best newly-formed embryos were transferred to the womb of the surrogate sheep.
Since all the genetic data of the species are kept in the nucleus of the cell, the unfertilized egg or the womb of the surrogate animal do not have any effect on the identity of the embryo, the researcher noted, adding that successful steps have also been taken to clone the highly endangered Iranian Cheetah.
Established in 1991, Royan has been a pioneer of In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) in Iran and its first cloned animal, the first cloned sheep in the Middle East, was born in 2006.
“Among Asian countries, Iran ranks fourth in cloning animals after South Korea, Japan, and China,” Nasr-Esfahani added.
Poaching has driven the Isfahan mouflon close to extinction, and cloning may be one of the only ways to conserve the mouflon and other endangered animals in the species-rich Iran.