Researchers (Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, California, and San Diego Zoo) collaborated to create stem cells from the skin cells of a dead drill monkey, an endangered monkey native to Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and Cameroon.
They hope that the “induced pluripotent stem” (iPS) cells they create can then be persuaded (biochemically) to become sperm and egg cells. These cells will be implanted into the womb of another monkey, and hopefully form a viable foetus.
San Diego Zoo’s Frozen Zoo project has taken samples from 8,400 individuals of more than 800 species. They hope these samples can be used in IVF programes – to improve captive breeding projects …and even breeding from animals that are dead.
Last year, for the first time, an extinct animal – the Pyrenean ibex – was cloned using skin samples and the eggs of a domestic goat. The ibex died shortly after birth. Other researchers are trying, not as yet successfully, to recover intact DNA from frozen woolly mammoths.
What are your thoughts?