Scientists use two sets of DNA to create a chimera monkey

Tuesday, 14/11/2023, 17:40 (GMT+7)

Chinese scientists have created a monkey chimera with two DNA sets, aiming to benefit medical research and endangered species conservation through experimental work.

Researchers have successfully created the world's first live birth of a primate chimera using stem cells from a cynomolgus monkey, a crab-eating macaque, and a genetically distinct embryo from the same monkey species.

The monkey lived for 10 days before passing away.

Scientists use two sets of DNA to create a chimera monkey 1
Image Credit: Cell

Scientists from China used seven-day-old monkey embryos to retrieve nine stem cell lines. Some of these cells were then transferred to four-to-five-day-old monkey embryos.

The monkey was found to be "substantially chimeric," with a high ratio of cells growing from stem cells throughout its body, according to the study published in Cell. 

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Image Credit: Cell

"It is encouraging that our live birth monkey chimera had a big contribution (of stem cells) to the brain, suggesting that indeed this approach should be valuable for modeling neurodegenerative diseases,” said study coauthor Miguel Esteban, principal investigator at the Guangzhou Institute

Scientists used green fluorescent protein to identify embryonic cells in two sets of monkeys. After implanting embryos, twelve monkeys were conceived and six live births occurred.

However, only one monkey was classified as 'substantially chimeric' due to its tissue's high percentage of stem cells, averaging 67% out of 26 tested types.

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Image Credit: Cell

“Monkey chimeras also have potential enormous value for species conservation if they could be achieved between two types of nonhuman primate species, one of which is endangered,” he said.

“If there is a contribution of the donor cells from the endangered species to the germ line, one could envisage that through breeding animals of these species could be produced,” he added.

Chimera mice have also excited scientists before; however, monkeys are evolutionary closer to humans making this development even more exciting.

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Image Credit: Cell Blog

The Chinese Academy of Sciences' Zhen Liu, a senior author of the study, said, as per The Independent: "This is a long-sought goal in the field. This work could help us to generate more precise monkey models for studying neurological diseases as well as for other biomedicine studies."

"The health of the monkey is still a problem. If we want to produce a monkey model, we have to have a better chimera that can live longer," the scientific director of the Institute of Neuroscience at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Professor Mu-Ming Poo explained.