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Goodbye Royana, Iran’s 1st cloned sheep dies

Iranian researchers have announced the death of Royana, Iran’s — and the Midle East’s — first cloned sheep.

“The decision was made to euthanize three-year-old Royana after a veterinary examination showed he had a progressive liver disease,” the Royan institute in Isfahan, Iran said in a statement.

The sheep, which was cloned in 2006 in the city of Isfahan, managed to survive the post-natal complications most cloned animals are prone to.

On September 30, 2006, a group of scientists in Iran cloned Royana from an adult cell in a test tube in a laboratory. After the embryo proved its stability, scientists transferred it to the uterus of a female sheep.

After a period of 145 days, Royana was born by caesarean section. Despite critical conditions, he survived and thrived.

“Three years later, Royana is dead. Scientists decided to euthanize him after the abdomenal pain he had been suffering from was traced to his liver,” the institute’s statement added.

With Royana, Iran has become one of the few countries to possess the technology and the means to clone farm animals, which could lead to advances in medical research, including using cloned animals to produce human antibodies against diseases.

A kid named ‘Hanna’ and two calves named ‘Bonyana’ and ‘Tamina’ were other animals successfully cloned in the country.

In January 2010, Iran became the first Middle Eastern country to produce transgenic animals, such as sheep and goats to have foreign proteins in their milk, which renders them valuable sources of protein for human therapy.

Biotechnology is Iran’s second most important scientific research field after nuclear technology.

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