By ALI AKBAR DAREINI
Associated Press Writer
ISFAHAN, Iran (AP) -- Iranian scientists have cloned a goat and plan future experiments they hope will lead to a treatment for stroke patients, the leader of the research said Wednesday. The female goat, named Hana, was born early Wednesday in the city of Isfahan in central Iran, said Dr. Mohammed Hossein Nasr e Isfahani, head of the Royan Research Institute.
"With the birth of Hana, Iran is among five countries in the world cloning a baby goat," said Isfahani, an embryologist.
In 2006 Iran became the first country in the Middle East to announce it had cloned a sheep. Two and a half years later, that animal is healthy, the institute said.
The effort is part of Iran's quest to become a regional powerhouse in advanced science and technology by 2025. In particular, Iran is striving for achievements in medicine and in aerospace and nuclear technology.
Iran's nuclear work has led to an international showdown over Western claims that it wants to develop atomic weapons. Iran says its nuclear activity is aimed at generating electricity, not the bomb.
The cloning of sheep and other animals could lead to advances in medical research, including using cloned animals to produce human antibodies against diseases, Isfahani said.
He said his institute's main aim in cloning the goat is to produce medicine to be used to treat people who have had strokes.
Iran's cloning program has won backing from Shiite Muslim religious leaders, who have issued decrees authorizing animal cloning but banning human reproductive cloning. A majority of Iran's nearly 70 million people are Shiite Muslims.