Thursday, January 5, 2012

Short Sharp Science

Chimeric monkeys boast six genetic identities

Andy Coghlan, reporter
6629986913_5c8ee1f32f_o.jpgRoku and Hex (Image: OHSU)

These cuties are the world's first chimeric monkeys. All tissues throughout their entire bodies are mixtures of cells with up to six different genetic identities.
Chimeric mice have been important in medical research for decades because they contain two or more distinct genetic identities. They can be produced using embryonic stem cells, but the chimeric monkeys proved more difficult to produce. Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Beaverton created them by extracting individual cells from up to six very early embryos, each containing just four cells, then mixing these together in a single, new embryo.
After post-mortems on seven miscarried chimeras, Mitalipov discovered that the genotypes from each of the six original embryos were dispersed throughout their bodies, rather than segregated into discrete tissues. This means that the testicles of each of the three survivors contain sperm with one of six different genetic identities.
"We will breed them, using ejaculate to make new embryos in the lab," says Mitalipov.
There are no plans to use similar techniques on human embryos - but human chimeras can sometimes occur naturally

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