BUENOS AIRES, Aug. 29 (Xinhua) -- Scientists from the University of Buenos Aires (UBA) have successfully cloned an Asiatic Cheetah, a species in danger of extinction, local media announced Saturday.
In an unprecedented feat in the efforts to protect the fastest cat, researchers from the UBA's Faculty of Agriculture "for the first time in the world managed to attain an embryo for cloning," local daily Clarin said in a report.
"At the beginning of the last decade, there were scientists in India who had a plan to clone Asiatic Cheetahs. However, the objective was not achieved. Now, the clone -- at least in its embryo state -- was attained by a group led by veterinary Daniel Salamone," added the newspaper.
The project began with skin cell samples obtained from a cheetah in Buenos Aires Zoo, and then the cloning process followed in the faculty's laboratory under Salamone's direction, according to the report.
From there, they merged the cheetah's skin cells with domestic cats' eggs, whose nucleus had been removed and did not have zona pellucida, said the daily, adding that after various attempts, the cloning embryos were obtained.
Then they took two clone embryos and subjected them to a process called aggregation, and from there an embryo in blastocyst stage was developed, Clarin quoted the researchers as saying.
The scientists put the brakes on the embryo's development, which meant that it was not born.
"We had signed an agreement with the zoo, which adheres to the standards set out in the Latin American Association for Zoos and Aquariums' ethics code, and we were only authorized to work with the embryos," Salamone was quoted as saying.
"It is important to check the viability of the zoo's cell bank and we could have descendants of cheetahs in the future. There is also the possibility that cloning could be useful in curing cheetahs from illnesses caused by stem cell derivation," concluded the expert.