Recently Shenzhen researcher He Jiankui made headlines for gene editing by CRISPR technology, again another Spanish researcher Juan Carlos Izpisua has managed to produce the first-ever chimeras of a human and monkey by injecting human stem cells into the monkey embryos to grow organs for transplantation in their laboratory which is based in China.
However, they told that they did not allow any monkey chimeras with human cells to be born and interrupted the pregnancies. Nunez and her fellow researchers have not revealed any further details ahead of publications in international scientific magazines, but called the results “very promising”.
According to Izpisua, his team carried out “the world’s first experiment on chimeras of humans and pigs” in 2017, which did not have much success. As his co-author from Argentina, Pablo Ross, explained to El Pais, “human cells contributed to the development of the chimera embryo very little”.However, the team earlier managed to create chimeras of mice and rats. It used the same CRISPR genetic editing technique to eliminate genes necessary for the development of the heart, eyes, and pancreas in mouse embryos and inserted rat stem cells instead. However, these chimera embryos were also aborted before the “14-day red line”. This limitation was set internationally for such experiments in order to prevent the embryos from developing human central nervous systems, which takes more than two weeks.
The recent study on monkeys, in turn, was largely funded by the Catholic University of Murcia. While in Spain such experiments are limited to studies on terminal diseases, Nunez revealed that they opted for China to carry out the monkey experiments as they cannot be conducted in Spain due to a lack of infrastructure.
A well known Japanese biologist Hiromitsu Nakauchi from Stanford University already did this back in 2010. His group generated mouse pancreas in rats and transplanted them into mice, thereby reversing diabetes.
China made news in the scientific community after Shenzhen researcher He Jiankui said in an interview with the AP news agency last year that he had successfully altered the genes of twin girls in order to prevent them from contracting HIV. The scientist reportedly has not been seen in public since delivering a presentation in Hong Kong last week on the human gene editing experiment, which Chinese authorities condemned. There are rumors that he is under house arrest at the Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, China, the institution that employs him, and from which he has been on leave since February.