Until now, rodents have been the primary creatures used to make chimeras, a lab animal produced by combining two or more fertilized eggs or early embryos together.
Scientists have long been able to create “knock-out” mice with certain genes deleted in order to study a host of ailments and remedies, including obesity, heart disease, anxiety, diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.
Attempts to do the same with more complicated primates have failed in the past, but scientists in the western state of Oregon succeeded by altering the method used to make mice. (Photo: AFP/Oregon Health & Science University)
Monkeying around at the movies There’s seldom a bad year for apes in the movies. King Kong, the biggest of them all, makes regular appearances to show off the latest developments in stop-motion (1933), giant prosthetics (1976) and motion-capture (2005). But by any reckoning, 2011 was a banner year for simian cinema.
The oddest and most coincidental pairing had to be Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Project Nim. The first, essentially a reboot of the 1960s franchise, was a US$100-million summer tentpole starring James Franco as a well-meaning geneticist who raises a super-intelligent chimpanzee in his home.
Project Nim is a documentary by James Marsh (Man on Wire) with startlingly similar overtones. In 1973 — just about the time Battle of the Planet of the Apes was limping into theatres — a chimpanzee named Nim was taken from his mother and raised in a human family.