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Regina Bailey

Adult Stem Cells May Save the Snow Leopard

By January 26, 2012

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Snow leopard
Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Monash University researchers have discovered a way to help the endangered snow leopard by producing induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells from ear tissue cells of adult snow leopards. Induced pluripotent stem cells are genetically altered adult stem cells that can develop into a variety of different types of cells. The researchers hope to be able to coax the iPS cells into forming gametes for the future reproduction of these animals through cloning or other methods.

According to study researcher Rajneesh Verma, "By generating these stem cells, we've taken the first step in creating reproductive cells from adult tissues of an endangered animal. In the future, we aim to harness the potential of the iPS cells and create off-spring. This would help save species from extinction." This study marks the first time iPS cells have been generated from a member of the feline family. If the researchers are successful in creating reproductive cells, the cells could be used to conserve snow leopard tissue through cryopreservation.

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