First chimeric part-monkey piglets born in China

pig monkey chimera
Image: Tang Hai

Scientists in China created piglets whose organs contained some monkey cells. The piglets all died within a week, illustrating the challenges ahead as researchers work toward the goal of growing human organs inside other animals.

Monkey cells were found in their heart, liver, spleen, lung, brain, and skin, but not in some other organs, such as testes and ovaries. Traces of monkey cells were scant however, ranging from 1 in 1,000 cells to 1 in 10,000 cells.

Looking ahead, the researchers would like to refine the procedure and create piglets with organs predominantly composed of primate cells.

In terms of the ethics involved, there is of course the issue of animal experimentation and the prospect of using pigs to harvest human organs. A potentially more contentious issue, however, has to do with the primate cells appearing in the piglets’ brains. Scientists have already expressed concerns about this, particularly the potential for human neural cells to end up inside the brains of chimeric mice. Typically, we prioritize human needs over animal suffering, but what if those animals are technically part-human? It’s a thorny issue that isn’t likely to be resolved any time soon.

Related article:  Three bird species in one? Inside a warbler's puzzling DNA

Read full, original post: Piglets Born With Monkey Cells Are a World First

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