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Researchers Create First Genetically Modified Monkeys 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the didn't-we-just-see-this-movie dept.
Several readers tipped news that U.S. scientists have created 'chimeric' monkeys, made with genetic material from as many as six different genomes (abstract). This is significant because it's the first time researchers have used the technique on a primate. From the article: "Researchers took very early stem cells, called totipotent stem cells, from separate developing embryos and basically glued them together, implanting the mixed embryos into surrogate mother monkeys. The cells — from totally different sources — didn’t fuse, but worked together in harmony, forming fully fledged, normal, healthy animals. ... The key here was the scientists’ use of totipotent cells, so named for their ability to differentiate into the totality of possible cells in an animal. A totipotent cell can give rise to a whole animal. Pluripotent stem cells, the type most frequently used in stem cell research, can differentiate into any cell in the body, but can’t become a whole animal, and can’t make other embryonic tissues like a placenta. Totipotent stem cells are only derived from the very earliest stages of a zygote, mere days after fertilization. In humans, totipotent cells differentiate into pluripotent cells after four days."
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Researchers Create First Genetically Modified Monkeys

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    All subsequent posts are pluripotent and require this fp to proceed.
  • by sandytaru (1158959) on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:17AM (#38609836) Journal
    I assume since the immune system is trained up together, there aren't issues with tissue rejection? Since scientists have created a way to turn ordinary skin cells into pluripotent stem cells (via a viral gene therapy process), are there any plans to try to reach this totipotent stage as well?
    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@gmaiWELTYl.com minus author> on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:47AM (#38610162) Journal

      Chimeras occur in nature and AFAIK there are no negative health effects so I don't think tissue rejection is an issue...

      • by ByOhTek (1181381)

        But, cross-species chimeras? I'm not familiar with that in nature.

        • I RTFA'd and still can't find where it says these are cross-species.

          • Researchers took very early stem cells, called totipotent stem cells, from separate developing embryos and basically glued them together, implanting the mixed embryos into surrogate mother monkeys. The cells â" from totally different sources â" didnâ(TM)t fuse, but worked together in harmony, forming fully fledged, normal, healthy animals.

            I suppose if the stem cells were fused it would be cross species but it's pretty clear they are seperate stem cells developing independant of eachother in the same womb.

        • The word "chimera" means it is cross species; the chimeric monkey being a mosaic of varied monkey species cells.

      • by kcitren (72383)
        It is an probably an issue, but I'm not a biologist, geneticist, or anything related to medicine. What I do know is that females are far more likely to be chimera than males, and autoimmune disorders are far more prevalent in females than males. It seems likely that there's something going on there.
    • by kurt555gs (309278)

      The good news is soon they will be able to make better children. The right skin and eye color, smart, well behaved, healthy. And, these GM children will then vote for allowing GM food in every country in the world.

      Hail Monsanto!

    • by imikem (767509)

      That's Franken-STEEN! Sheesh.

    • by hitmark (640295)

      I recall reading about kids that had bone marrow transfusions at a early age ended up with a immune system that woulkd accept multiple blood types. I wonder if something similar could apply for tissue rejection...

  • by yog (19073) * on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:18AM (#38609862) Homepage Journal

    Let's set aside all religious and moral/ethical concerns and look at the practicalities. A chimp with near-human intelligence would be a tremendous asset to both the military and private economy. They are much stronger and faster than humans, so would be incredible soldiers. They can ALREADY use sign language to communicate with humans, so just imagine taking that a step further--being able to type or write messages, maybe able to mimic human spoken language.

    They would make great athletic coaches, especially for gymnastic training and the like. They would be good nannies and playmates for kids, and could defend the kids from nasty people even more effectively than could a dog.

    I guess that leads to the idea of chimeric dogs. Just imagine a dog smart enough to identify someone and testify against him in court. "Yes sir, that's the perpetrator. I can smell him a mile away."

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:24AM (#38609940)

      Consider first, everything that you've ever done in front of your dog, and then ask if you really want them being able to talk.

    • by ByOhTek (1181381)

      Yes, but if they surpass humanity in too many regards... Planet of the Apes... err... chimps.

    • by ae1294 (1547521)
    • by Anonymous Coward

      "They can ALREADY use sign language to communicate with humans, so just imagine taking that a step further--being able to type or write messages, maybe able to mimic human spoken language."

      They'd be able to write Shakespeare real fast.

    • by rubycodez (864176) on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:47AM (#38610160)
      No, Chimps are not great playmates nor nannies. If they get it into their head to attack, for many times unclear reasons, they instinctely follow a pattern of destruction of the enemy primates body. first they will gnaw off your child's fingers. Then they attack your precious little one's face by biting off parts. They then start to dismember, ripping off limbs.

      Chimps are unpredictable and extremely dangerous. Many people have been maimed or killed by their pet chimps.
      • by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Friday January 06, 2012 @11:23AM (#38610612)

        Chimps are unpredictable and extremely dangerous. Many people have been maimed or killed by their pet chimps.

        Yeah, under no circumstances google any picture of Charla Nash.

        (Now observe people doing exactly the thing I told them not to do...)

      • How about Bonobos?

        • by rubycodez (864176)
          197 out of 200 bonobo owners and their family members surveyed couldn't answer, as they were being penetrated in all their orifices by bonobos. The other three were busy spitting out bonobo semen.
          • by wdef (1050680)

            197 out of 200 bonobo owners and their family members surveyed couldn't answer, as they were being penetrated in all their orifices by bonobos. The other three were busy spitting out bonobo semen.

            Some people in Jersey pay well for this service. Snooki, is that you?

    • by Tsingi (870990)

      A chimp with near-human intelligence would be a tremendous asset to both the military and private economy. They are much stronger and faster than humans, so would be incredible soldiers.

      I guess it's time we all watch the Planet of the Apes movie again. Just for a refresher.

    • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Friday January 06, 2012 @11:19AM (#38610554)

      They are much stronger and faster than humans, so would be incredible soldiers.

      I don't see them being worth the investment compared to a predator drone. What good would a chimp do in Iraq? Convince an informant to give up the location of an insurgent by pretending to smoke a cigar in a cute fashion? Throw poop at a IUD until it was deactivated?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Did anyone read the book Chromosome 6 by Robin Cook? How much can we genetically alter apes / chimps before they become people? By replacing a simple chromosome in bonobos, those animals developed human-like traits -- including the ability to create and control fire.

    • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Friday January 06, 2012 @12:13PM (#38611184)

      Let's set aside all religious and moral/ethical concerns and look at the practicalities.

      Now there's a worrying start to a conversation.

      • Well put. I would say that the only thing that should be added is to also throw out all reason and sanity.

    • by dkleinsc (563838) on Friday January 06, 2012 @12:50PM (#38611718) Homepage

      Truman: Are you planning to make some kind of alien-human hybrid?
      Zoidberg: Are you coming onto me?
      Truman: Hot crackers, I take exception to that!
      Zoidberg: I'm not hearing a "no".

      • These are not hybrid animals. A chimera is made up multiple dna from the same species. It occurs naturally when the embroys of twins fuse together.
    • Let's set aside all religious and moral/ethical concerns and look at the practicalities.

      I can set aside religious concerns, but are you really proposing setting aside moral/ethical concerns? Would it be okay to create such a creature and have them fight our wars (whether for real or on the field)? One of the reasons people get concerned about technology and unbridled science is that all too often, moral/ethical concerns are left out of the discussion.

      For example, the technology to split an atom is, in and of itself, a neutral thing. Using the technology to provide a power source versus crea

      • by ifrag (984323)

        scientists can't get by ignoring the moral/ethical considerations

        Actually, if you look into it, that's exactly what J. Robert Oppenheimer actually did. This paper provides some compelling reasoning to back it up: The Gita of J. Robert Oppenheimer [amphilsoc.org].

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          scientists can't get by ignoring the moral/ethical considerations

          Actually, if you look into it, that's exactly what J. Robert Oppenheimer actually did. This paper provides some compelling reasoning to back it up: The Gita of J. Robert Oppenheimer [amphilsoc.org].

          From the link you gave:
          He believed that he had a job to do; that he should do it only because it was his job and not because he was intent on obtaining any particular result; and that following these principles would bring a saving measure of serenity into his profoundly discontented existence.

          The fact that he had to concoct such a rationalization to complete his work speaks volumes about what he, himself, knew about the moral/ethical implications of that work. The further fact that he was able to dismiss

    • by Ragica (552891)
      Nice try, Dr. Zaius, now back to your cage.
    • by hey! (33014)

      A chimp with near-human intelligence

      .. would not be a chimp. Aside from that, *all* of your ideas are highly impractical. Their strength and aggressiveness would make them *terrible* soldiers, because they'd be impossible to control. A lot of what makes armies effective are things humans are uniquely good at, like working together and suppressing our instinctual reactions.

      As for athletic coaches, the most important thing in a coach is an understanding of individual and group human psychology.

      The idea of using super-chimps as nannies comes fr

  • http://drexfiles.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/mugato_keeper_2.jpg [wordpress.com]

    I believe this is a picture of one of the scientists and one of their monkey subjects.

  • by rsmith84 (2540216) on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:20AM (#38609888)
    the Rise of the Planet of the Apes!
  • by Sockatume (732728) on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:21AM (#38609896)

    It seems to me that the manipulation was entirely mechanical and chemical, and that no modification of the genetic content of the cells happened at all. Which actually makes it all the more striking a result.

  • Great, on top of global warming, nuclear war and overpopulation the establishment has to add the threat of making "The Planet Of The Apes" a reality too.

    Oh well, at least I'm not allergic to nuts.

  • I can't wait until they can grow the cells upside down and shaking so they can work on the wings of our rocket planes while in flight.

  • What would the outcome be if they mixed Totipotent cells from monkeys of different genders?
    • They would win a Nobel prize for discovering the only "niche" porn concept that doesn't yet have its own website.

    • by Remus Shepherd (32833) <remus@panix.com> on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:39AM (#38610110) Homepage

      Mixed-gender chimeras happen in real life. In general it's not a huge problem for the organism. One part of the animal contains the sex organs, and those organs are appropriate for the genes in that part. The hormones are often wacky, of course. Yes, you can get hermaphrodites this way.

      You may be under the impression that a chimera is a homogenous mix of cells from different gene lines. Actually, the gene lines usually occur in 'clumps' throughout the organism. The right arm might be all one gene line, while the torso is another, and the left arm yet a third. The clump around the lower abdomen will determine which sex organs develop.

      • It shouldn't be that important. The only gene that determines gender is TFT, and all that does is make the testes form... everything else gender-specific is a consequence of the hormone produced there. So long as the gonads are of matching gender, the organisism as a whole should present as one gender anatomically. It's only if the chimeric line happens to run between the gonads that you'd get weird hermaphroditic outcomes.
        • Typo, sorry: Meant to say TDF.
        • Well, TDF may be the only gene that determines gender, it's certainly not the only thing that determines how a fetus develops. The hormonal environment in the womb also has a huge effect, and seems to have a significant impact on sexual orientation as well as physiology. IANA biologist, but I suspect that the number of "natural" hermaphrodites resulting from chimeric mergers is vanishingly small.

      • by jpapon (1877296)
        Thanks, I was not aware of that. I often find that my education as an Electrical Engineer has left me woefully ignorant regarding biology.
  • by binarylarry (1338699) on Friday January 06, 2012 @10:27AM (#38609990)

    Behold! The six assed monkey!

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Sadly it died out of depression. Too much poo and not enough hands to fling it with.

  • I don't know why. I just felt like saying that.

  • Clearly Newt & Santorum hadn't caught the same chimp look in the way W did. http://0.tqn.com/d/politicalhumor/1/0/l/7/bush_chimp.jpg [tqn.com]
  • I mean, creating the works is one thing, but reading them...

  • I would have much rather preferred that they fused the cells of a chicken and a pig. I think chork or picken would be well received by the culinary industry. Chicken fused with tuna might even make a bigger splash. Imagine eating Chuna or Ticken straight out of a can of "Chicken of the Sea" brand chicken-tuna. Finally, the brand name for the popular canned meat would make sense. Mmmm!

  • George Taylor: A planet where apes evolved from men? There's got to be an answer. Dr. Zaius: Don't look for it, Taylor. You may not like what you find.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    In other news ADM reports that these monkeys are RoundUp resistant, allowing mokey farmers to increase MYPA (monkey yield per acre).

  • by macraig (621737) <`mark.a.craig' `at' `gmail.com'> on Friday January 06, 2012 @11:35AM (#38610738)

    'Cause, ya know, if they're not open source it'll make rooting 'em to turn 'em into Android monkeys just that much harder.

  • ... It's just monkeying around. If they wanted to do something serious, they'd try to e.g. intercalate human DNA associated with e.g. language or speech centers into chimpanzee or dog DNA. My dog's English sucks, and he's a mostly border-collie and speaks better English than most dogs. Why can't they try something useful for a change?
  • It's easy, only one line of code.

The difficult we do today; the impossible takes a little longer.

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