China moves one step closer to “Planet of the apes”

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(By Shazma Khan) Scientists put human gene into monkeys to make them smarter, human-like

Making monkeys more smart and human-like, scientists have used gene-editing to insert human brain gene in a monkey.

For the first time, a team of Chinese scientists made use of gene-editing techniques to make monkey brains more human-like. By the end, the monkeys, rhesus macaques, got smarter and had superior memories as compared to the unaltered monkeys.

Researchers edited the human version of a gene known as ‘MCPH1’ into the macaques. The gene made the monkeys’ brain develop along a more human-like timelineThe gene-hacked monkeys showed better reaction times and improved short-term memories in comparison to their unaltered peers, as per China Daily.

The team successfully created 11 transgenic rhesus monkeys carrying human copies of MCPH1. They said that a transgenic monkey model is practical and to a large extent can imitate the human-specific status.

However, few scientists also raised concerns regarding the technique, some even calling it ‘reckless’. Geneticist James Sikela told the MIT Technology Review, “The use of transgenic monkeys to study human genes linked to brain evolution is a very risky road to take. It is a classic slippery slope issue and one that we can expect to recur as this type of research is pursued.”

Copyright Business Recorder, 2019

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