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Scientists research stem cells to save endangered animals

Biologists have created stem cells from two endangered species that they hope will help the animals survive, BBC reports.

A study was recently released in Nature Methods, reporting that two highly endangered species - the northern white rhinoceros and the drill, a primate - have become the first endangered animals to have their cells turned into stem cells.

The stem cells were made from skin through a scientific process called "re-programming," which brings the cells back to an earlier stage of development. At the early stage, they are "pluripotent," which means that they can be induced to form cells such as those in neurons and cartilage, the news source reports.

Research team chief Dr. Jeanne Loring told the news source that the experiment was not easy and the scientists did not expect it to work. However, it did, which now opens up the possibility of making gametes - egg and sperm cells - out of the stem cells.

"Making gametes from stem cells is not routine yet, but there are some reports of it being done with laboratory animals," Loring told the publication.

According to The Castlegar Source, there are only four northern white rhinos left in the wild, and the drill is declining due to habitat loss and hunting.  
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