In a groundbreaking development, Chinese scientists have announced the birth of a chimeric monkey, marking a huge leap in the world of medicine and genetics.
This special monkey is made by combining cells from two different baby monkey groups before birth. This accomplishment is a big deal because, until recently, it was only possible in rats and mice.
New arenas for research
The team, guided by Zhen Liu from the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), considers this achievement a “long-sought goal in the field.”
According to Liu, “This research not only has implications for understanding naive pluripotency in other primates, including humans, but it also has relevant practical implications for genetic engineering and species conservation.”
In particular, this accomplishment might assist in creating more accurate monkey models for researching brain-related illnesses and other important studies in biomedicine.
Details of the research
The team concentrated on cynomolgus monkeys, a common choice in medical research. They created nine stem cell lines from 7-day-old blastocyst embryos, making them more versatile. This laid the foundation for a groundbreaking experiment.
The versatile cells, highlighted with a green fluorescent protein, were injected into early monkey embryos and then placed in female macaques. This resulted in 12 pregnancies and six healthy births.
Results of the study
The specialists verified that one monkey born alive and another one that didn’t make it to full term were significantly chimeric. This means their bodies had cells that originated from the stem cells and spread throughout.
These special cells were found in many body parts like the brain, heart, kidney, liver, and digestive system, making up 21% to 92% of the live monkeys.
Disgusting, unethical, and cruel! Soon there will be genetic engineering of humans to serve specific purposes too, just like in Brave New World.
The “chimeric” monkey is composed of cells that originated from two genetically distinct embryos of the same species of monkey,… pic.twitter.com/DfxrwEjtUJ
— ❤️ Archangel Céleste (@CelesteArchange) November 9, 2023
Interestingly, the researchers also discovered these stem cell-derived cells in the testes and cells that would eventually become sperm, showing how widespread this chimerism was.
Implications of the study
The study co-author Miguel Esteban of BGI Research and CAS said, “In this study, we have provided strong evidence that naive monkey pluripotent stem cells possess the capability of differentiating in vivo into all the various tissues composing a monkey body.”
“This study deepens our understanding of the developmental potential of pluripotent stem cells in primate species.”
The study co-author Qiang Sun of CAS said, “This work helps us to better understand naive pluripotency in primate cells.” He further said, “In the future, we will try to increase the efficiency of this method for generating chimeric monkeys by optimizing the culture conditions for the stem cells, the cultures for the blastocysts where the stem cells are inserted, or both.”