Science 2 min read

China Clones "Mentally Ill" Gene-Edited Monkeys

The gene-edited monkeys cloned by Chinese geneticists | New China TV

The gene-edited monkeys cloned by Chinese geneticists | New China TV

Chinese scientists recently caused further uproar within the scientific community after successfully cloning five gene-edited monkeys. The experiment was carried out by geneticists from the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience in Shanghai.

While this is not the first time that Chinese scientists have cloned monkeys, this is the first cloning in history of genetically altered primates. Last year, the same team of researchers led by Qiang Sun cloned a long-tailed macaque, resulting in the birth of two identical primates of the same breed.

“We believe that this approach of cloning gene-edited monkeys could be used to generate a variety of monkey models for gene-based diseases, including many brain diseases, as well as immune and metabolic disorders and cancer,” Sun was quoted as saying.

Read More: Successful Cloning of Primates Breaks the Barrier to Human Cloning

Cloning Gene-Edited Monkeys

All the baby primates share the same genes derived from a fibroblast taken from a donor monkey’s skin. They also carry a copy of the donor’s gene that was altered using CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology.

The primates were cloned using somatic cell nuclear transfer; the same technique Sun used to clone the macaques Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua. However, the genes of the five monkeys were altered to make them mentally ill.

The Chinese researchers cloned over 300 monkey embryos implanted into dozens of surrogate mothers. The attempt resulted to 16 pregnancies but only five survived.

According to the study, the genetically identical macaques have already shown signs of reduced sleep patterns, depression, and behaviors related to schizophrenia.

Despite the ethical issues now surrounding the success of Sun and his team’s experiment, they claimed that what they did can be used to test human treatments. The scientists suggest that cloning gene-edited monkeys and other animals for medical testing is quicker and can provide faster results.

Do you believe that gene-editing animals for the benefit of humankind is acceptable?

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