Scientists Created A Mouse That Is 4% Human

human-mouse chimera

By Mayukh Saha / Truth Theory

Did you ever look at the Marvel movies and wonder if mutated villains would become a reality? Well, it’s not science fiction when we tell you that scientists at Roswell Park Cancer Institute have succeeded in breeding a human-mouse chimera. This clinically bred mouse shares 4 percent of human stem cells, the highest to date. The work has been published in a magazine called Science Advances

A chimera is an organism that is composed of two or more different genotypes. 

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This figure shows a large quantity of human cells (labeled green) in a 17-day old mouse embryo (labeled blue). Most of the human cells are red blood cells, which are accumulated in the mouse fetal liver. Image: Zhixing Hu

While the human-mouse chimera is still far away from the science fiction heroes and villains, it is still a great leap forward in genetic modification. The human cells were injected into developing embryos. Two weeks in, the researchers noticed a newborn mouse exhibiting 4 percent of human stem cells. The discovery came as a happy surprise for the scientists, as animal and human cells generally don’t mix well. They hope that their research can be further developed to enable the generation of human organs inside animals. 

Human-Mouse Chimera Has Revolutionary Potential

The researchers stated that in order to bring the human stem cells back to its naïve stage, they had to inhibit the protein present in the human cells for around 3 hours. This way, they could reassemble the human stem cells into their desired tissue type. 

The naïve cells were then injected and infused with the mouse embryos. Two weeks later, they observed that the developing brain, liver, heart, eyes, bone marrow, and blood showed the presence of human stem cells. The scientists examined the newborn human-mouse chimera’s DNA and found that around 4 percent of its tissues consisted of human stem cells. 

If you have been bracing your heart while reading this article, wondering what a nuisance a mouse with human intelligence can be, worry no more. The germline tissues, which are responsible for the regeneration of the species, did not show any trace of human stem cells. 

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This is not the first time that a chimera has been bred. In 1984, a sheep-goat chimera had been bred by researchers in Cambridge. The chimeric creature lived well into adulthood. 

However, not all tests showed such positive results. Two monkey-pig chimeras were bred in December, just last year by scientists in China, but these creatures survived for only a short period. 

Leaving aside science fiction and fantasies, on a more real note, genetic chimerism has the potential of developing human organs inside these creatures. If successful, this could be a revolutionary turn in human history as it would provide organs to those in need, and we already know how long those waitlists are. 

While it is a medical marvel and deserves all the appreciation, we need to remember to hold our excitement until more research is provided, and the scientific process can be replicated by other researchers. 

Let’s hope the research progresses, and the human-mouse chimera does not turn into a nightmare, but only beneficial scientific reality. 

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Image: Zhixing Hu

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