There is one thing we learned from movies: combining one animal with another is never a good idea. Well, scientists from China did not try to create a new monster, but they did manage to generate baby pigs with monkey cells – monkey-pig hybrids.
According to a new report, a team of researchers from the State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology wanted to create the first pig-monkey chimeras. In case you don’t know, a chimera is an organism that includes living cells of various genotypes.
Put simply into words, and the research added some monkey cells to pig embryos, which allowed mature female pigs to carry the embryos to term. Then, they observed the resulted piglets.
Monkey-Pig Hybrids Were Created in China
The team has worked with more than 4000 embryos, and all of them were put in sows. Of those embryos, ten of them were carried to the full term. The appearance of the piglets was not changed, but the monkey cells were definitely there, and they were modified to fluoresce so they could better see them.
Out of the ten piglets, two of them were chimeras. However, both of them died in about one week from their birth. The cause of death is not known. We know that this sounds grim, and it is kind of creepy, too, but the aim of the research was an entirely another story. The researchers were working to grow human organs in pigs.
The organ transplant waitlists are the ones killing people all around the globe, so human organs grown in pigs might be a solution for us. This idea may sound good, but is it ethical to kill and use pigs this way, only with this goal? The work will continue, even if the monkey-pig hybrids died.