Chinese scientists have brought a remarkable monkey into the world. The animal is slightly fluorescent and has green fingers and eyes. The existence of the monkey should eventually contribute to scientific knowledge about treating and understanding human diseases.
The ‘green’ monkey was born in the lab after Chinese scientists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences injected an embryo with stem cells from a genetically different donor embryo. The resulting animal is therefore the first live-born chimeric primate with a high percentage of cells derived from donor stem cells. A chimera refers to a mixture that has two or more different sets of DNA.
For the study, the researchers used stem cell lines – a group of cells grown in a laboratory from a single stem cell – taken from a seven-day-old embryo. These cells were then injected into four- to five-day-old embryos and were then spiked with a fluoro-green protein to ensure that the researchers could see exactly which tissues had grown from these stem cells. Which ultimately led to the monkey’s special appearance. The embryos were implanted into female macaque monkeys, resulting in 12 pregnancies and six births. Of those six, only one was born alive.
Human organs in pigs
The existence of the monkey opens many doors, because such a chimeric monkey is biologically more similar to humans than chimeric rats or mice, for example. In this way, scientists can gain more insight into human diseases and their treatments.
The method could also contribute to the growth of human organs in pigs or non-human primates in the future.
The ‘green’ monkey had to be euthanized when he was just ten days old. The animal was hypothermic and had breathing difficulties.
The research also raises many ethical questions, but according to the scientists, they have followed all Chinese ethical guidelines