AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: Chimera

Is it Really in Your Genes?

Over and over again, we have been told that our personality traits, our idiosyncrasies, our weaknesses, and our merits are all because of our genome.  Supposedly, if someone studies our DNA, they will know exactly the type of person we are, but is that really true?  According to new research, it’s not.  Researchers have discovered that is extremely common for a person to have mosaicism, or multiple genomes.  In other words, chimeras make up a higher fraction of people than scientists originally thought.  Some have many variations, or mutations, in certain parts of the body, and some people even have genomes that are from other people.  People can acquire a different set of genes along with their original genes as early as in the womb.  Previously, there were just hints about the idea of multiple genomes, but the hints have turned into definite statements.  The evidence of multiple genomes is changing the way scientists think. Links between rare diseases and multiple genomes are becoming apparent.  After figuring this out, scientists are figuring out links between more common disorders and genome multiplicity.  Although many forms of cancer and other diseases are linked to mosaicism, most instances of multiple genomes are benign.  It is also changing the way that forensic scientists view DNA evidence in crime investigations.  The biggest change of all is perhaps that scientists now have to consider that DNA from a finger prick may not be the same DNA in a muscle cell or brain cell.  This means that scientists can’t tell what is happening in all the organs just from a simple blood test or test from one organ.  They can’t be certain of what is happening in other parts of the body.  However, scientists are hard at work discovering more powerful ways to investigate our multiple genomes.

Monkey Be, Monkey Do

Are you one of those people who has always wondered about scientist’s progress in creating genetically amalgamated Monkeys? Well, if the answer is yes, then you need wonder no more, because Scientists have recently created their very own combinations of primate genes known as Chimeric Monkeys through the extensive study of stem cells and embryonic tissue.

The term Chimeric Monkey, stemming from the Greek Chimera, essentially describes the scientists efforts of combining various monkey genes in a prospective embryo, and empregnating a mother with said genes to direct what the eventual monkey child will develop into based on its new genes. It should be noted also that experiments with chimeric mice have also been a great asset in this venture, as they have provided certain genes which serve as “knock out” genes for  ones that the scientists wish to delete when creating the new monkey genome.

Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Center at Oregon Health & Science University has been one of the primary figures in researching this new breakthrough chimeric studies saying that “The possibilities for science are enormous.” The basic procedure for creating the Chimeric monkeys entails the initial mixing of embryonic cells very early in their development that are classified as totipotent, or still having the capability of creating an entire animal with placenta, and other life sustaining tissues. Mitalipov has stated that “The cells never fuse, but they stay together and work together to form tissues and organs”.

So what do you all think? Is this all really a huge breakthrough in genetic science, or perhaps going a bit too far in what we were meant to manipulate?

Oh, and by the way, Mitalipov emphasized that there is no need or plans for chimeric humans,  just in case you were wondering

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