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Endangered Stem Cells

September 27, 2011

Stem cell research could help bring drill monkeys and northern white rhinos back from the brink of extinction.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Saving the rhino’s skin…I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When most people think of stem cells, human health comes to mind, but the same technology could someday be used to bring endangered species back from the brink of extinction. Scientists from the Scripps Research Institute teamed up with the San Diego Zoo to create stem cells from skin cells of the endangered African drill monkey and the northern white rhino.

JEANNE LORING (Scripps Research Institute):

We thought that these pluripotent stem cells might be used to generate new animals using the same sorts of reproductive technologies that have been developed for people.

HIRSHON:

She says the cells can develop into any type of cell in the body, so could be used to generate embryos that combine genetic information from a male and female. Then they could be implanted in a surrogate mother of a similar, but non-endangered species. While the technology is a long way from producing baby monkeys and rhinos, if successful, it could help save these and other endangered species. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

HIRSHON:

I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.