Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Government Retiring Chimps Used In Medical Research

The National Institutes of Health plans to end most use of chimpanzees in government medical research, saying humans' closest relatives "deserve special respect."

The NIH announced Wednesday that it will retire about 310 government-owned chimpanzees from research over the next few years, and keep only 50 others essentially on retainer — available if needed for crucial medical studies that could be performed no other way.

"These amazing animals have taught us a great deal already," said NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins. He said the decision helps usher in "a compassionate era."

Full story here.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Monkey Makes Medical History After Having a Successful Liver Transplant From A Cloned Pig

A Tibetan macaque has entered the record books after successfully undergoing a liver transplant using an organ taken from a cloned pig.

The Xijing Hospital in Xi'an, China, announced that it made the successful liver transplant from the pig to a monkey on Thursday.

The transplant took place on 28 May and the macaque is now in a stable enough condition for the transplant to be considered a success.

Experts said that the success of this operation is a breakthrough in the field of major organ transplant surgeries.

Doctors at the Chinese hospital had attempted the transplant earlier in May with a different Tibetan macaque and the liver from transgenic pig but the monkey died two days after the operation.

Full story here.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Tiny Tarsier Fossils Unveiled As Earliest Known Primate

The near-complete fossil of a tiny creature unearthed in China in 2002 has bolstered the idea that the anthropoid group of primates — whose modern-day members include monkeys, apes and humans — had appeared by at least 55 million years ago. The fossil primate does not belong to that lineage, however: it is thought to be the earliest-discovered ancestor of small tree-dwelling primates called tarsiers, showing that even at this early time, the tarsier and anthropoid groups had split apart.

The slender-limbed, long-tailed primate, described today in Nature1, was about the size of today’s pygmy mouse lemur and would have weighed between 20 and 30 grams, the researchers estimate. The mammal sports an odd blend of features, with its skull, teeth and limb bones having proportions resembling those of tarsiers, but its heel and foot bones more like anthropoids. “This mosaic of features hasn’t been seen before in any living or fossil primate,” says study author Christopher Beard, a palaeontologist at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Full story here.