On January 5, 2012, The Guardian announced the birth of the world’s first monkey chimeras in the United States. In the scientific field, chimeras are developed from the fusion of multiple embryos of the same species, each with a distinct genome and in the early stages of development. In the 1960s, chimeras were formed from mice embryos. But recently, a team of scientists led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov at the Oregon National Primate Research Centre produced the first monkey chimeras in history. These monkeys were created from six rhesus monkey embryos that were fused in a petri dish when the cells were only four days old. Within a few days, 90% of them grew into blastocysts, which were implanted into five female rhesus monkeys, all of which became pregnant. The cells of the chimeras never fused together, but they did work together to from tissues and organs.
The resulting singleton and twins were healthy macaque monkeys with no apparent birth defects. Scientists named the singleton Chimero and the twins Roku and Hex, both meaning the word for “six” in Japanese and Greek.
Chimeras could help forward stem cell research. In concept, Chimero, Roku and Hex are results of injecting embryonic stem cells that integrate themselves into organismal tissues and organs to grow. The evident success attests to whether such stem cells stored in laboratories could turn into working tissues when injected into the organism. Furthermore, the chimeras could help illustrate the process of embryonic development, like why particular cells only become certain tissues and how individual genes work.
Many protest this kind of research for the ethical issues and setbacks it presents. The joining of the embryonic cells makes people think that scientists want to create super organisms. The idea of forming human chimeras next may also cause a public uproar. In terms of research setbacks, most cells seemed to lose their totipotency over time, so scientists will need to find a way to make the cell lines last longer. In addition, more research needs to be done about the possible differences primate embryonic stem cells could have with human embryonic stem cells. Chimeras are not the ordinary type of animal found naturally in the wild. I believe that chimeras are a remarkable advance in DNA technology research. Although research should be definitely continued, the full usage and potential of the animals are full of possibilities in the biotechnological field.
To learn more, read the original article at the following link!
Sample, I. (2012, Jan. 5). “Chimera” monkeys created in lab by combining several embryos into one. The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/jan/05/chimera-monkeys-combining-several-embryos
By NaYoung Yang