The world’s first monkey-pig hybrids have been born in a Chinese lab amid scientific attempts to grow human organs inside animals. The incredible experiment saw two chimera piglets born with DNA from both pigs and cynomolgus monkeys. However, the experiment was short-lived as the two piglets both died within a week.
According to the researchers, the baby piglets had genetic material from cynomolgus monkeys in their heart, liver, spleen, lung and skin.
However, the success rate was significantly low as only 10 piglets were born from more than 4,000 implanted in sows.
From those, only two were chimeras in a result that has been deemed “discouraging” by other leading stem cell scientists.
Lead researcher Tang Hai at the State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology in Beijing said: “This is the first report of full-term pig-monkey chimeras.”
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Ms Hai confirmed that it was unclear why the piglets died, but the non-chimeric pigs died as well.
The Chinese research team suspect that the deaths could have been due to the IVF process instead than the chimerism
According to research study, stem cells from macaque monkeys were grown in a lab and then injected into pig embryos five days after fertilisation.
Ms Hai said that the next step in their research was to create healthy animals with a higher proportion of monkey cells before creating pigs in which one organ is composed almost entirely of primate cells.
Remarking on the story, one person suggested that it was “not okay” while another claimed it was “wrong on every level” in create animal hybrids.
A similar experiment took place in the US in 2017 using both pig and human DNA.
In that study, the embryos were terminated after a month due to ethical fears that the pig brains may have been “partly human”.