WTF Fun Fact 13613 – First Chimeric Monkey

Researchers have made a monumental stride in primate research by making the first chimeric monkey.

This marks the first successful birth of a chimeric monkey from embryonic stem cell lines. This scientific achievement has profound implications for the fields of genetic engineering, species conservation, and biomedical studies.

Understanding Chimerism in Primates

The study, led by senior author Zhen Liu of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, culminated in the birth of a monkey with cells originating from two distinct embryos. Until now, this feat of chimerism had been achieved only in smaller mammals such as rats and mice. Published in the prestigious journal Cell, the research opens new avenues for understanding pluripotency. That’s the capability of stem cells to differentiate into any cell type—in non-human primates and possibly humans.

The cynomolgus monkeys, commonly used in biomedical research, served as the subjects for this groundbreaking experiment. The researchers established nine stem cell lines from blastocyst embryos and selected a subset of these pluripotent cells to inject into early-stage monkey embryos. This meticulous process led to several pregnancies and the birth of six live monkeys. One of these showcased a substantial level of chimerism.

The Making of a Chimeric Monkey

The researchers tagged the stem cells with green fluorescent protein. This enabled them to trace which tissues originated from the stem cells. Extensive analysis revealed that the chimeric monkey exhibited a wide distribution of stem-cell-derived tissues across the brain, heart, kidney, liver, and gastrointestinal tract. Remarkably, the live monkey displayed stem cell contributions ranging from 21% to 92% across various tissues, averaging 67%.

The presence of stem-cell-derived cells in the reproductive tissues was a significant discovery. It underscors the potential for these cells to contribute to the germline and possibly influence future generations.

Implications and Future Directions

The success of this study is not merely academic. It has practical implications, offering the potential to create more precise monkey models for neurological and other biomedical research. By enhancing the understanding of primate cell developmental potential, the study paves the way for innovative approaches in medical science.

Looking ahead, the team aims to refine their method to increase the efficiency of generating chimeric monkeys. They plan to optimize the stem cell cultures and the blastocysts’ environments, hoping to improve the survival rates of these embryos in host animals.

In conclusion, the birth of the first chimeric monkey from embryonic stem cells is a remarkable scientific milestone. It broadens our knowledge of primate biology and holds promise for future applications that could benefit both primate conservation and human health.

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Source: “First live birth of a chimeric monkey using embryonic stem cell lines” — ScienceDaily

WTF Fun Fact 12800 – Monkeys and Bananas Don’t Mix

Color us shocked by this one. We had no idea that monkeys don’t actually eat bananas in the wild OR that bananas are actually really bad for monkeys!

Monkeys love bananas, but…

Monkeys love bananas the same way we love junk food. And when people first started to keep monkeys as pets, they would give the creatures choices of things that grew locally. It turns out, that monkeys often chose bananas simply because they’re tasty.

If someone asked you what you’d like to eat and put down your favorite snack next to a bunch of vegetables, you’d probably reach for the sugary snack. Our brains love sugar. Unfortunately, for all of us primates, sugar isn’t good for us. It can affect our teeth, interfere with our digestion, make us gain weight, and lead to diseases such as diabetes and heart disease.

The same goes for monkeys.

Bananas are for humans

We think of bananas as healthy because they have a lot of potassium and our bodies are a lot bigger than a monkey’s. When we eat a banana, we taste the sugar, but it’s not really enough for it to be considered “junk food.”

The way bananas are grown, they simply don’t have enough protein or fiber for them to be of much nutritional use to monkeys.

According to Dr. Amy Plowman at Paignton Zoo in Devon (who made news when she banned bananas for monkeys) said: “People usually try to improve their diet by eating more fruit – but fruit that’s cultivated (grown) for humans is much higher in sugar and much lower in protein and fiber than most wild fruit because we like our fruit to be so sweet and juicy…Compared to the food they would eat in the wild, bananas are much more energy-dense – they have lots of calories – and contain much more sugar that’s bad for their teeth and can lead to diabetes and similar conditions.”

Of course, weaning monkeys off bananas is just as hard as telling humans to stop eating sugar. Monkeys should be eating leafy greens instead. Of course, a captive monkey can be stripped of the choice of what to eat, so improving their diet is a lot easier than improving our own.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Monkeys banned from eating bananas because they’re unhealthy” — BBC UK