Academic journal article Journal of College Science Teaching

Saving the Snow Leopard

Academic journal article Journal of College Science Teaching

Saving the Snow Leopard

Article excerpt

The survival of the endangered snow leopard is looking promising, thanks to scientists at Monash University in Australia who have, for the first time, produced embryonic stemlike cells from the tissue of an adult leopard. Never before have induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, which share many of the useful properties of embryonic stem cells, been generated from a member of the cat family. The breakthrough raises the possibility of cryopreservation of genetic material for future cloning and other assisted reproduction techniques.

The study, published recently in the journal Theriogenology, is part of the PhD project of Rajneesh Verma at the Monash Institute of Medical Research. Mr. Verma and collaborating researchers used ear tissue samples taken from adult snow leopards at Mogo Zoo, in NSW, to generate the iPS cells. According to Mr. Verma, the breakthrough was significant because of the difficulty of obtaining reproductive cells, or gametes, even from animals in captivity.

"There is a lot of interest in cryopreservation of tissue from endangered species, but for this to be useful for conservation, both sperm and an egg are required, Mr. Verma said.

"The power of stem cells is that they can differentiate into all the cell types in the body. …

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