Aug 1, 2019
MIT Technology Review – In a controversial first, a team of researchers has been creating embryos that are part human and part monkey, reports the Spanish daily El País.
According to the newspaper, the Spanish-born biologist Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte, who operates a lab at the Salk Institute in California, has been working with monkey researchers in China to perform the disturbing research.
Their objective is to create “human-animal chimeras,” in this case monkey embryos to which human cells are added.
The idea behind the research is to fashion animals that possess organs, like a kidney or liver, made up entirely of human cells.
Such animals could be used as sources of organs for transplantation.
The technique for making chimeras involves injecting human embryonic stem cells into a days-old embryo of another species.
The hope is that the human cells will grow along with the embryo, adding to it.
Izpisúa Belmonte tried making human-animal chimeras previously by adding human cells to pig embryos, but the human cells didn’t take hold effectively.
Because monkeys are genetically closer to humans, it’s possible that such experiments could now succeed.