Chinese scientists have created pig monkey hybrids – paving the way to a future in which human organs could be custom-grown in animals for transplant.
“This is the first report of full-term monkey-pig chimeras”, Tang Hai at the State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology in Beijing told New Scientist.
The animals had only a small amount of monkey DNA – concentrated in the heart, liver, spleen, lungs and skin cells. The team is now trying to create healthy animals with a higher proportion of monkey cells, says Hai.
Adorable German Shepherd dog's unique genes mean he will always be a puppy
While the long-term goal is to incubate human-compatible organs in pig hosts, the team chose to develop the technique using monkey cells first.
This is at the result of criticism around work done by Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte’s team at California’s Salk Institute in 2017. In that case pig-human hybrids were created but concerns were raised that the animals could have partly human brains.
Belmonte’s team is now working in China, and according to an unconfirmed report have already created human-monkey chimeras.
The Chinese team’s pig-monkeys didn’t live for very long after birth, but that is thought to be a problem with the IVF technique rather than the insertion of monkey DNA. A number of pigs with entirely normal genes created with the same technique also failed to survive.
For reasons that are not currently understood, IVF doesn’t work as reliably in pigs as it does in humans and other animals.
Monkeys to be sterilised by AI after rampages as aggressive primates targeted
Binge drinking could be in your DNA as scientists find 'booze gene'
In other experiments, researchers have created monkeys with brains that are partially human, mice with human cells in their eyes and sheep with partially human organs.
A rival team is working on a project to create a mouse with a brain made entirely of human cells.
Chimeras are not true hybrids, Essentially, in a chimera, each cell will either be completely pig or completely monkey, while in a hybrid each cell contains the blended DNA of both parent species.
Source: Read Full Article