Scientists Take Step toward Saving Endangered Rhino

Society Science

Tokyo, Dec. 10 (Jiji Press)--An international team including Japan's Osaka University has succeeded in creating cells possibly developing into reproductive cells of the northern white rhinoceros, which might pave the way for saving the species on the verge of extinction.

The team has created primordial germ cell-like cells of the rhino in vitro, in the world's first production of PGC-like cells from induced pluripotent stem, or iPS, cells derived from a wild animal. PGC-like cells are the source of sperm and eggs.

The team, including Masafumi Hayashi, a researcher at an Osaka University graduate school, and German and Italian scientists, published an article on the research in U.S. journal Science Advances on Friday.

The northern white rhino used to inhabit the central African continent, but illegal hunting and destruction of nature have drastically reduced its population. The species became extinct in the wild in 2008.

Two males and two females were then relocated to Kenya from a zoo. But the males have since died, making natural mating impossible because the two females are the only remaining northern white rhinos in the world.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press