The human DNA is strikingly similar to those of monkeys, having about 90% of the same characteristics. Creating embryos that represent a mix of human and monkey cells seemed only like a sci-fi scenario not too long ago, but once again, science reaches new heights.
As NPR.org reveals, an international team of scientists contributed to a world premiere in science: the creation of embryos that are a mixture of cells taken from both humans and monkeys, resulting in chimaeras. In Greek mythology, chimaeras were fire-breathing creatures that were a mixture of several animals.
More transplant options for people?
The scientists injected 25 induced pluripotent stem cells from humans (iPS cells) into embryos belonging to macaque monkeys. After waiting only one day, human cells growing in 132 of those embryos were detected.
Scientists created the new embryos to try to find new ways to produce organs for those who are in need of transplants. However, the new discovery could not be as beneficial as it may sound. Kirstin Matthews from Rice University’s Baker Institute declared:
My first question is: Why?
I think the public is going to be concerned, and I am as well, that we’re just kind of pushing forward with science without having a proper conversation about what we should or should not do.
A lot of people throughout the world die while waiting for an organ transplant, meaning that the new discovery should be beneficial. In the USA, another name is added to the transplant waiting list every 10 minutes. In general, about 20 people die every day in the country because of the lack of available organs for transplants.
Insoo Hyun, who is a bioethicist at Harvard University and Case Western Reserve University, adds that this type of research is aimed at lofty humanitarian goals.
The new findings were published in the journal Cell.