Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Chimeric Monkeys

Academic journal article The Science Teacher

Chimeric Monkeys

Article excerpt

Newly published research by scientists at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) provides significant new information about how early embryonic stem cells develop and take part in formation of the primate species. The research, which took place at OHSU's Oregon National Primate Research Center (ONPRC), has also resulted in the first successful birth of chimeric monkeys--monkeys developed from stem cells taken from two separate embryos.

The research was conducted to gain a better understanding of the differences between natural stem cells residing in early embryos and their cultured counterparts called embryonic stem cells. This study also determined that stem cell functions and abilities are different between primates and rodents.

The first cell type was totipotent cells--cells from the early embryo that have the ability to divide and produce all of the differentiated cells in the placenta and body of an organism. These were compared with pluripotent cells--cells derived from the later stage embryo that have the ability to become the body but not placenta.

In mice, either totipotent or pluripotent cells from two different animals can be combined to transform into an embryo that later becomes a chimeric animal. However, the current research demonstrated that for reasons yet unknown, chimeric animals can only develop from totipotent cells in a higher animal model: the rhesus macaque. …

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