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Ol Pejeta creates hybrid embryo for northern white rhinos

Ol Pejeta creates hybrid embryo for northern white rhinos

Southern white rhinos are closely related to northern white rhinos and so their genetic pairing is ideal for potential IFV.

"Our results are solid, reproducible and very promising".

Scientists said the northern white could make a similar recovery through conservation efforts that make use of frozen cell lines. It struck a awful blow for the species, who were then functionally extinct.

'With small chance of healthy new calves, and limited place in their historic range to go, Save the Rhino believes that the best outcome will be to put our efforts and funding - including research into IVF - into saving the species which do still have a chance, ' it said on its website. A southern white rhino could then carry the resultant embryos to full term.

That is why scientists, alongside with artificial reproduction methods, also work on stem cells development derived from the stem cells obtained from the northern white rhinoceros that have been preserved in the past.

The hybrid embryos were developed by a team of researchers from the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research and in order to create an embryo ready for implantation, eggs from southern white rhinos were used.

The emergence of new DNA sequencing technologies, cloning and cell reprogramming have opened up new opportunities for salvation while already extinct or endangered animal species.

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Dvur Kralove Zoo worldwide projects spokesman Jan Stejskal, who helped write the report, said he'd been part of efforts to save the northern white rhinos for 40 years.

"In our lab we were able to develop procedures to mature the oocytes, fertilise them by intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and culture them". "Using these gadgets and techniques, Hildebrandt and his colleagues recovered the egg of the southern white rhinos from the bodies of several female" donors", and introduce them to the nuclei of the sperm cells, treating them with powerful, but short current pulses.

In the meantime, the team will practice, implanting some of their hybrid embryos into SWR surrogates "to test the system". In a paper published in Nature Communications, the researchers reported the first step in a long road to resurrecting the subspecies: the creation of the first ever in-vitro rhino embryos.

European biologists chose to save the animals through artificial insemination. These have now been frozen for possible transplantation into a surrogate southern white rhino female. Only two of these rhinos are known to be alive, and they're both female. No northern white rhinos remain in the wild. These are mature sexual reproduction cells, like a sperm or egg, that join to create a zygote, or fertilized egg cell. "We - at Avantea - successfully generated SWR embryonic stem cells with all the features of undifferentiated cells and a high capacity for differentiation in different cell lineages", Prof Cesare Galli reports.

"Many people working in the conservation area are very against using biotechnology", he said.

"We didn't have many options so we had to be realistic."
"There are many, many steps from the petri dish to the live calf on the ground", she says. "I do think that if there's one thing we should learn from this, it's that we shouldn't allow species to get to such a critical state that these high-tech approaches are the only ways of saving its genes".


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