A breakthrough in the effort to save the White Rhino

A breakthrough in the effort to save the White Rhino

Now that scientists know they can reliably collect eggs from female white rhinos, and that northern white rhino sperm can fertilize a white rhino egg in the lab, the next step is to go to Kenya and harvest eggs from the last two northern white rhinos on Earth. Technology stem cells can transform these cells into eggs and sperm that can be used to create genetically different embryos, although it may take ten years.

The findings were published in the journal Nature Communications on Wednesday.

"The northern white rhino did not fail evolution, it failed because it was not bullet-proof".

If the researchers can repeat their success with eggs from a northern white rhino female, then there's hope for these animals after all.

Those embryos are frozen right now and the team says that there is a high chance of establishing pregnancy once the embryos are implanted into the surrogate mother. The procedure had never been attempted among northern and southern white rhinos, according to the study. In March 2018 the last NWR male - Sudan - died of old age.

With only two NWR females left and all the available semen from only four dead males, ART alone would likely lead to a population without the genetic diversity required for a species to thrive.

The northern white rhinoceros needs a miracle.

"Our goal is that we have, in three years, the first northern white rhino calf born", said Thomas Hildebrandt, of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin.

They've succeeded in their first step - making hybrid embryos. Even the eggs of elderly or infertile SWR have produced embryos successfully.

Several embryos are now frozen and preserved for future insertion into surrogate mothers.

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It's a tricky process. They, like their "reprogrammed" cousins hopes ecologist, will help scientists to quickly restore the population of these rhinos.

Hildebrandt said, "We are highly afraid that something unexpected may happen during this procedure which is related to the heart or something else - that would be a nightmare".

The resulting egg was fertilized by sperm, taken earlier from Sudan and stored frozen. An global team of researchers has successfully created NWR hybrid embryos in the lab, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications.

These embryos could become healthy young white rhino calves once implanted into females.

The southern white rhino is still quite numerous, with an estimated 21,000 of the animals living in South Africa today. Better still, the embryos give researchers a source of stem cells, which could be turned into better quality sperm and eggs. Additionally, the worldwide team established stem cell lines from blastocysts of the SWR with typical features of embryonic stem cells.

There's a second way to make them, also.

Researchers have increased efforts to develop new scientific advances to bring the species back to life again.

"These methods could play a valuable role in the effort to save rhinoceros populations on the brink of extinction". "Impressive results in a petri dish don't easily translate into a herd of healthy offspring".

"Our results indicate that ART (assisted reproduction techniques) could be a viable strategy to rescue genes from the iconic, nearly extinct, northern white rhinoceros", the team wrote in the journal Nature Communications.

"What we've done is very similar to what's done to couples with fertility problems", Galli said. "We didn't have many options so we had to be realistic", he said.

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