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克隆猴背后的中国科研实力疾进
Cloning breakthrough heralds China’s scientific rise

来源:FT中文网    2018-02-05 07:22



        As a statement of intent, it could hardly have been more dramatic. Last week, scientists in China announced they had cloned monkeys. It is the first time that the technique used to create Dolly the sheep has been applied successfully to primates.        作为一种志向陈述,没有比这个更加引人注目的了。不久前,中国的科学家们宣布他们成功克隆出了猴子。这是创造克隆羊“多利”(Dolly)的技术首次被成功地应用于灵长类动物。
        While the milestone has spurred discussion about whether it could herald the onset of human cloning, the real story is the meteoric rise of China on the scientific stage. The country is pouring billions into efforts to become a research superpower. It is setting records, year on year, for the number of papers published in prestigious international journals. It files more patents each year than any other country (a record 1.1m in 2015), and more than the US, Japan and Korea combined. But China is also raising eyebrows for its use of cash incentives: many institutions pay scientists for papers published. The country’s most prolific scholars are pocketing amounts akin to City of London bonuses.        虽然这一里程碑式的突破引发了关于这是否预示着科学家也将开始克隆人的讨论,但其真正意义是中国在科学舞台上的迅速崛起。中国正在投入巨资,朝着成为科研大国的方向努力。中国在国际著名期刊上发表的论文数量年年都在刷新纪录。中国的专利申请数量每年都领先全球——2015年创下110万项申请的纪录——而且比美国、日本和韩国的总和还要多。同样令人惊奇的还有中国的现金激励机制,许多机构都向发表论文的科学家颁发奖金。这个国家最多产的学者拿到的奖金可媲美伦敦金融城(City of London)的员工。
        The birth of two identical macaque monkeys in Shanghai refreshes the technical possibility of human cloning. Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua were produced using somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). To create a clone, a monkey embryo was emptied of its DNA and the vacancy filled with DNA taken from a tissue cell of a macaque foetus. Two embryos altered in this way resulted in successful live births, producing two clones of the same macaque foetus. (Nature is also capable of creating two genetic clones in the form of identical twins, which result from a single embryo dividing in the womb). The research, published in the journal Cell, was carried out by scientists at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience.        诞生在上海的两只基因完全相同的克隆猕猴,再度表明了克隆人在科学上是可能的。中中和华华是用“体细胞核移植”(SCNT)方法克隆的。要制造克隆猴胚胎,需从一个猕猴胎儿的体细胞中提取细胞核,然后植入摘取了细胞核的猕猴卵母细胞中。用这种方法改造过的两个胚胎最终成功存活,产生了同一个猕猴胎儿的两只克隆猴。(自然情况下,同卵双胞胎也能形成两个基因相同的胎儿,他们是在子宫内从一个受精卵分裂成的两个胚胎。)这项研究是由中国科学院神经科学研究所(Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience)的科学家们进行的,成果发表在《细胞》(Cell)期刊上。
        The arithmetic behind their success bears testimony to the technical difficulty of cloning primates, similar to hurdles facing those cloning sheep or mice. Of 109 cloned embryos, three-quarters were implanted into 21 surrogate monkeys. This led to a handful of pregnancies and two successful births (although more clones are due to be born). As with the experiments that produced Dolly in 1996, the majority of cloned embryos that survive to implantation tend to abort spontaneously, or produce animals with birth defects. These dangers, as well as more obvious moral considerations regarding human individuality, render human cloning unethical to most scientists.        他们成功背后的数字充分证明了克隆灵长类动物的技术难度,克隆羊或小鼠也曾面临过这样的障碍。总共109个克隆胚胎,其中四分之三被植入21只代孕母猴体内,有若干只母猴受孕,最终成功诞生两只克隆猴(不过还有更多克隆猴即将诞生)。与1996年克隆出多利的实验一样,大多数存活到植入阶段的克隆胚胎通常会自发性流产,或产生存在先天缺陷的动物。这些危险,以及有关人类个性特征的更明显的考量,让克隆人在大多数科学家看来是不道德的。
        The Shanghai team state that, while their breakthrough smashes a barrier to human cloning, their sole intention is to produce genetically identical monkeys for medical research, an approach that could revolutionise the messy process of drug discovery.        上海这支科研团队表示,他们的突破虽然打破了克隆人的障碍,但他们唯一的目的是培育基因相同的猴子用于医学研究,这一方法有可能给复杂的新药研发过程带来革命。
        The adorable face of a baby monkey is perhaps the most eye-catching symbol of a nation intent on academic dominance. China is pursuing a policy called World Class 2.0, an attempt to catapult six universities into the league of top global institutions by 2020. The Thousand Talents programme, meanwhile, is luring international professors with generous packages and a $160,000 golden hello. That the country is raising its research game is clear from another measure. China has overtaken the US when it comes to the total number of scientific publications: 426,000 to 409,000, in 2016. The US, though, still triumphs when it comes to highly cited papers (a measure of influence).        猴宝宝可爱的面孔也许是最引人注目的象征,显露出中国希望在学术领域占据优势地位的意图。中国正在实行一项被称做建设世界一流大学2.0版的方案,即“双一流”政策,计划到2020年前让若干所大学进入世界一流行列。与此同时,“千人计划”也在以慷慨的福利条件和高额待遇吸引国际上的专家学者。还有一个指标也反映中国在提高科研实力。中国年度研究论文发表总数已超过了美国,2016年中国为42.6万篇,美国为40.9万篇。不过美国在“高被引论文”——衡量论文影响力——方面依然领先。
        Some wonder whether China’s extraordinary ascent in the scientific firmament is due to cash payments for publication in top journals. One trawl through university websites revealed that, in 2016, a researcher could earn an average personal payment of about $44,000 for landing a paper in Nature or Science, the two most globally recognised journals. The highest payment on offer was a staggering $165,000 per paper — and this in a country where a professor typically earns less than $9,000.        有些人猜测,中国在科学领域不同凡响的崛起,是不是因为其科研人员一旦在顶级期刊上发表论文就能得到现金奖励的缘故。根据一次对大学网站的调查,2016年研究人员在《自然》(Nature)或《科学》(Science)这两个全球最著名期刊上发表一篇论文平均可获得4.4万美元。而一篇论文的奖励最高可达16.5万美元,要知道这个国家的教授一年工资通常还不到9000美元。
        China is also comparatively unhindered by regulatory oversight, allowing it to notch up a string of controversial biotechnology breakthroughs. It achieved a canine double-whammy last year, by cloning a gene-edited puppy. It is now pioneering gene-editing in humans.        中国也相对不受监管的阻碍,这使其得以在生物技术领域取得了一系列有争议的突破。去年中国培育出了一只基因编辑克隆犬。中国在人类基因编辑方面走在前列。
        It is also reaching for the moon — literally — with plans to build a lunar outpost. Mastering artificial intelligence is high on the government’s agenda, prompting concern at the number of Chinese firms investing in American tech start-ups. While the US still spends more than any other nation on basic science — $86bn in 2015 — the OECD estimates China will outspend its rival on R&D by 2019. When it comes to science and technology, the sun is most assuredly rising in the east.        中国还开启探月工程,计划在月球建立一个前哨站。掌握人工智能技术也摆在中国政府议程的重要位置,投资美国科技初创公司的中国企业之多引起关切。尽管美国在基础科学方面的投入仍然超过其他国家——2015年为860亿美元——但经合组织(OECD)估计到2019年中国将在研发经费上超过其对手。就科学技术而言,太阳确实正在从东方升起。
        The writer is a science commentator        本文作者安贾娜•阿胡贾是一位科学评论员。
                
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