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Scientists create world’s first mixed-embryo monkeys

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IN WHAT COULD be a major breakthrough for medical research, scientists have merged cells from six different embryos to create the world’s first mixed-embryo monkeys. The feat was achieved when scientists at the Oregon National Primate Research Centre at the Oregon Health and Science University in the United States mixed cells from early stage embryos of rhesus monkeys to form a whole animal along with life-sustaining tissues. According to lead researcher Shoukhrat Mitalipov, the experiment produced three healthy male rhesus monkeys, which have gene traits from all the individual embryos from which they were created. The cells do not fuse, but stay together and work together to form tissues and organs, he said. Similar attempts in the past have failed. So far, scientists have created chimeras, a lab animal, by combining more than one fertilised eggs of rodents. The technique helps them delete certain genes so as to be able to study ailments like obesity, heart disease, anxiety, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease, and their remedies. Rhesus monkeys are used to study drugs for HIV and AIDS, and vaccines for rabies, smallpox and polio. They have even been sent to space on test missions by the US and Russia.

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