Report: Experiment adding human stem cells to monkey embryos is successful
Like a scene out of a sci-fi movie, scientists have created part-human, part-monkey embryos in a bid to find new ways to make human tissues and organs for replacement therapies.
In a report released Thursday in the journal Cell, scientists announced they successfully injected human stem cells into monkey embryos. It might “constitute a promising strategy for various regenerative medicine applications, including the generation of organs and tissues for transplantation.”
Jun Wu, assistant professor at the University of Texas Southwestern, began in 2013 working on a study involving pig and human cells. After the “disappointing” results, he said scientists wanted to explore combining human cells with a nonhuman primate — a monkey.
Previous studies using mouse and pig embryos showed a formation between humans and a species evolutionary distant to humans did not contribute to a successful embryo formation.
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“We looked at a species evolutionarily closer to humans to see if they could survive better so we can come back to the pig and apply what we learned,” Wu said.
The new study found a collaborator in China and in 2017, the experiment began. Through a process similar to in-vitro fertilization, 132 monkey embryos were successfully injected with human stem cells.
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But don’t expect a human-monkey species running around; Wu said by day 20, all the embryos will degenerate or collapse.
“This culture system is not able to support a live embryo growth,” Wu said.
The goal is to study crosstalk between the monkey and human cells in hopes of generating human organs in different species that will help the shortage of organs worldwide.
“The monkey cells become more human like and the human cells become more monkey like,” Wu said. “Excitingly, the human cells crosstalked with the monkey cells and worked together to keep the embryo alive.”
Follow reporter Asha Gilbert @Coastalasha. Email: [email protected]
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