The northern white rhino is almost gone. Could stem cells be used to preserve - or even revive - the endangered species?
Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif., think such a procedure might work for the endangered rhino and other species, BBC News reports.
The northern white rhino is one of the most endangered animals on Earth, while the drill - a west African monkey - is threatened by habitat loss and hunting.
The scientists report in Nature Methods that their stem cells could be made to turn into different types of body cell.
If they could turn into eggs and sperm, "test-tube babies" could be created.
Such applications are a long way off, but research team chief Jeanne Loring said she had been encouraged by the results on the rhino cells, which they had not really expected to be successful.
The goal will be to use stem cells to create gametes, and thus, new embryos, not simply cloned versions of existing animals. And the breakthrough is new. Using human stem cells, the kind already used in research for human applications, scientists have been able to generate stem cells using the skin cells of endangered animals like the rhino and the drill.