BEIJING, May 6: China scientists have launched ambitious research aimed at cloning the giant Panda as a means of saving extremely endangered species, a participating researcher said today.
The prestigious Chinese Academy of Sciences last month granted $ 12,000, Assistant Researcher Duan Chongwen said. Six full-time scientists and four post-doctoral students are working on the project, which is led by Chen Dayuan, he said.
Chen, who was not available for comment, last week told the Beijing Youth Daily that the group had successfully bred Panda body cells as part of foundation-building preliminary research. “We hope that we can obtain a (cloning) result within 10 years.” he said.
The group is preparing to set up an experimental model using more abundant test animals such as mice and rabbits, Chen said.
Plans to clone the panda-which is native only to China and a national symbol — have come under fire from some scientific circles here.
Pan Wenshi, a Panda expert at Beijing University’s BiologyDepartment, has attacked the idea as `potentially damaging to the species’ already-shrunken genetic pool.