The world’s first Chimera monkey has been created by scientists in the US at the Oregon National Primate Research Center. They produced the animals known as a chimera by putting together three to six embryos of a rhesus monkey in the early stage of development. They then implanted them back in embryos of the rhesus monkey.
Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University said, “The cells never fuse, but they stay together and work together to form tissues and organs. The possibilities for science are enormous.”
There were three total chimera monkey babies that were born from the embryo implant. One single named, Chimero and a set of twins named, Roku and Hex. Roku and Hex means six in Japanese and Greek.
The first chimera animals that were created was in 1960 when they experimented with mice. Researchers found out that they can combine embryos to form a single mouse of a normal size. Since 1960, scientists have created several versions of rats, rabbits, sheep, and even cattle chimeric.
The Oregon National Primate Research Center team produced the chimeric monkeys by fusing together four-day-old embryos together in a culture dish then waited for them to grow. Within a few days, 90% of them had grown into early stage embryos called blastocysts that contained at least twice as many cells than usual.
The scientists then implanted the chimeric embryos into five female rhesus monkeys, which all became pregnant from those embryos. Tests on the foetuses confirmed that all of the animals’ organs and tissues contained cells from more than one embryo.
Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Center said, “We cannot model everything in the mouse. If we want to move stem cell therapies from the lab to clinics and from the mouse to humans, we need to understand what these primate cells can and can’t do. We need to study them in humans, including human embryos.” He then added, “there is no practical use for producing human chimeras.”
Robin Lovell-Badge, head of genetics at the National Institute for Medical Research in London, said that most human and monkey embryonic stem cell lines are much more different from each other and was quoted saying, “This work supports this notion, as the macaque embryonic stem cells tested were unable to mix in with cells of the host embryos. This may be reassuring to those who worry that human embryonic stem cells could be used to make chimeric people, although in itself this should not be a concern, as such rare individuals already exist from the spontaneous merger of two early embryos. But it may be a concern for regenerative medicine if such cells are not as flexible as hoped.”