Chinese researchers add human brain-related gene to monkey genome in controversial experiment

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A team of researchers working in China has created several transgenic rhesus monkeys by adding a human gene involved in brain growth to the monkey's genome. In their paper published in the National Science Review, the group describes their work and the testing they conducted on the monkeys after they were born.

Bioscientists are making moves to start using gene editing techniques on humans, both to prevent diseases and to learn more about how . In this new effort, the team in China has added a human gene called MCPH1 to the genome of several rhesus as a means of learning more about human development. Prior research has shown that MCPH1 is involved in the growth of the brain—babies born without it have small brains.

To get the gene into the monkey genomes, the researchers simply injected viruses carrying the gene into monkey embryos and then allowed the monkeys to develop naturally. Eleven monkeys with the modified genome were born, but only five survived. Those five were tested to see what impact the human gene had on their development and abilities.

The researchers report that none of the monkeys had larger than normal brains, but all of them tested better than average on and in processing abilities.

The research, which was conducted by a team in China, is quite controversial—it would not have been allowed in most other countries. There's a consensus in the bioscience community that adding related to brain development to monkey genomes crosses an ethical line. Some believe it could lead to monkeys like those seen in the movie Planet of the Apes. What sort of status would such monkeys have if they were altered in ways that allowed them to think like a human being? For this reason, most are not willing to take part in such research—indeed, even one of the researchers on the team in China, an American from North Carolina University, had second thoughts. He suggested that creating monkeys that have some aspects of human brain power "is not a good direction." He claims he only assisted with MRI analysis for brain volume testing.


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More information: Lei Shi et al. Transgenic rhesus monkeys carrying the human MCPH1 gene copies show human-like neoteny of brain development, National Science Review (2019). DOI: 10.1093/nsr/nwz043

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Apr 11, 2019
Its almost as if everyone has to follow Western ethics

Apr 11, 2019
IF they come to collect their debts by force, say 30 years from now, post-SHTF in USA, they will come with super-soldiers and other bio-weapons.

Apr 11, 2019
I don't see what the big deal is. Intellectual monkey's? Your talking about what could have been a dozen monkey's. If a dozen mokey's can conquer the human race we kind of deserve it. Besides Apenstein might find the cure for cancer...or be really funny!

Apr 11, 2019
Greatest ever Most Modern Experiment.

Apr 11, 2019
Basic problem: Their skulls won't be any bigger, so bigger brains wouldn't fit inside them.

Apr 11, 2019
the status of these monkeys in china will be the same as any citizen in any state, expendable for "the greater good", what ever the state in question decides that is. Just as your property can be removed by the state, if it sees a need, so too can your sanity, health, self esteem, life e.t.c. Don't worry though, it's for "the best", what ever the state in question decides that is.
i personally welcome our chinese overlords, be they monkeys, or what ever. Didin't you see the olympics? They are so orderly and so happy there.

Apr 11, 2019
Adam and Eve began as one pair created artificially from cloning of parts in an alien laboratory in an area now under the Persian Gulf about 12500-13000 years ago. The reason was to carry out the alien's part in the Great Commissioin given all space faring species....to seek out semi sentient species and give their brains the ability to carry souls. Aliens that came here are reputed to be overheard taliking about our soul carriers so they KNOW that we are the People of the Universal Spirit (Holy Spirit) too, just like THEY are. Children of those monkey/men may or may not actually be able to have souls, but the possibiities can NOT be dismissed. Such may be our burden for messsing in areas where we lack competance. We as a species may even come in for trial and punishment for allowing this to be done. Even in the full knowledge that a major world war would have been a requirement for stopping a major world power like Godless China from commiting this likely crime. Am Catholic

Apr 12, 2019
Basic problem: Their skulls won't be any bigger, so bigger brains wouldn't fit inside them.


Uh, no.
Not how genetics works.

Apr 12, 2019
The problem with genetics research is that people do things they shouldn't do because they can and to be the first to do [whatever].

Morals, ethics and the very real dangers which cannot be anticipated fully be damned.

Apr 12, 2019
"The researchers report that none of the monkeys had larger than normal brains, but all of them tested better than average on memory tests and in processing abilities."

Maybe someone could inject Trump but get him out of office, first. We don't need to make his twisted plans any smarter.
While in office, you want to make it an in-FEC-tion, not injection.

Apr 12, 2019
The researcher from the U.S. should be fired from North Carolina University for violating ethical research practices.

Apr 15, 2019
I I have agreed with the old saw "That when you invent a better mousetrap
Nature will invent better mice!"
Then the corollary "Eventually, we will wind up with mice better enough to invent Mantraps"

Now some headline-hungry Chinese scientists are claiming they can artificially speed up the natural process of inventing mantrapping better mice!

"Oh, Brave New World!"

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