-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
THURSDAY, Jan. 5 (HealthDay News) -- By gluing together cells
from different genomes to form mixed embryos, researchers revealed
they have created the world's first chimeric monkeys.
In the report published online and in the Jan. 20 issue of
Cell, they said the monkeys, who are made up of as many as six different genomes, are normal and healthy.
By successfully implanting these genetically mixed rhesus monkey
embryos into mothers, the scientists argued that doors have been
opened for future studies since this type of research had
previously been restricted to the production of mice carrying
genetic mutations known as gene deletions.
"The cells never fuse, but they stay together and work together to form tissues and organs," said Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University in a news release. "The possibilities for science are enormous."
In producing the chimeric monkeys, researchers said they mixed
the cells from early-stage embryos because at that point the cells
are totipotent -- or able to form a whole animal -- not just one
specific type of tissue.
The researchers noted, however, that the use of cultured
embryonic stem cells could have limitations. Mitalipov explained
that the monkey embryos could prevent the cultured embryonic stem
cells from combining as they do in mice. These stem cells may also
not be as potent as those found in living embryos.
"We need to go back to basics. We need to study not just cultured embryonic stem cells but also stem cells in embryos. It's too soon to close the chapter on these cells," Mitalipov 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."
Mitalipov pointed out there are no plans to produce human
The U.S. National Institutes of Health provides more information
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