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Scientists Have Created Monkey-Pigs In A Lab

A team of scientists in China successfully created two chimera piglets containing the DNA of macaque monkeys.

The monkey-pig hybrids were bred from more than 4,000 embryos which were implanted into a sow using IVF, according to New Scientist.

Both looked like standard piglets but were found to have had monkey DNA in key organs such as the heart, liver, spleen, lungs, and skin. Sadly, the piglets died within a week of birth.

The ultimate aim is to be able to grow human organs in animals for transplantation.

Image: Tang Hai at the State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology

The method, as expected, is complicated.

Scientists at the State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology in Beijing injected thousands of five-day-old piglet embryos with monkey stem cells that had been modified to include a fluorescent protein to help track the cells.

The embryos were then implanted in sows and as a result, ten piglets were born, two of which were chimeras --  a single organism that's made up of cells from two or more individuals.

Embryo. Image: Getty

All died within days. It's not known why but is believed to have something to do with the IVF process.

The next step for scientists is to create healthy animals with a higher proportion of monkey cells, followed by the creation of pigs with almost an entire organ composed of primate cells.

Similar research was carried out in California back in 2017. Scientists from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies created human-pig chimeras that weren't brought to full term due to ethical concerns. The concern was that a chimera's brain could become partly human.

"For us to start to manipulate life functions in this kind of way without fully knowing how to turn it off or stop it if something goes awry really scares me," said Neuroscientist Douglas Munoz from Queen’s University in Kingston, Canada, according to Mail Online.