January 05, 2012

We've created Chimera Monkeys!

The first ever chimeric monkeys have been created at the Oregon National Primate Research Center by combining more than one embryo. Actually, they combined up to six! Now, they didn't combine more than one species of monkey. In fact, all the embryos were Rhesus monkey embryos, but that doesn't make this news story any less amazing.

The three monkey that were born, twins and a singleton, have up to 6 distinct genomes in them! The monkeys seem to be very healthy and have no birth defects, and considering how risky this controversial experiment was (which has never been done in primates before) this is good news.

Now, you might be wondering why we needed to create chimeric monkeys, and that's because we wanted to know whether or not stem cells that are injected into the body would turn into tissues. The answer? Not exactly. Chimeric monkeys were only created when they merged young embryos together, and not when stem cells were injected into an early-stage embryo.

This is bad news for us humans as well, because this means that we would face problems when trying to grow new tissues in humans from stem cells. Now of course, there are those that are against any type of stem cell research and are glad to know that this can't happen or else we'll have chimeric people walking around (even though we already do. Chimeric people can be formed when two early embryos in a mothers womb merge together. A video below will show you the cute little monkeys, although I suggest turning up your volume because I had trouble hearing what the scientists were saying.
Roku and Hex from OHSU News on Vimeo.


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