The world’s largest animal cloning centre is being established in China, with plans to clone horses, beef cattle, and dogs.
Boyalife Genomics, a subsidiary of Boyalife Group, which focuses on stem cell and regenerative medicine, will develop the $US31 million centre in the northern port city of Tianjin after signing an agreement with the Tianjin Economic and Technological Development Area (TEDA) .
Its main building is already under construction and is expected to be in use in the first half of 2016.
The 200 million yuan center will be jointly built by Sinica, Peking University’s Institute of Molecular Medicine, the Tianjin International Joint Academy of Biomedicine, and the Republic of Korea’s Sooam Biotech Research Foundation.
Boyalife says it will produce 100,000 cattle embryos a year initially, eventually increasing to 1 million, said Xu Xiaochun, board chairman of Boyalife Group, based in Wuxi, east China’s Jiangsu Province.
Chinese farmers are struggling to produce enough beef cattle to meet market demand, Xu said.
The center, the largest such facility worldwide, will also include a gene storage area and a museum, he added.
Scientists have cloned horses, mice, cattle and other animals since the world’s first cloned sheep, Dolly, was born on July 5, 1996 in Britain.
Since 2000, Chinese scientists have cloned sheep, cattle and pigs.
China’s first commercial cloning company was established in September 2014 in the eastern Shandong Province with the birth of three pure-blooded Tibetan mastiff puppies. The firm is a joint venture between Boyalife and Sooam Biotech.
Before this, cloning in China had been limited to scientific research. More and more companies have shown interest in investing in the technology for commercial use, especially animal husbandry.