Chinese Scientists Introduced Human Brain Genes into Monkeys

Chinese Scientists Introduced Human Brain Genes into Monkeys

Chinese scientists have inserted the genes of the human brain into monkeys, which have been described as "ethical nightmare" of gene-editing.

In a study published last month in Beijing's National Science Review, the magazine of state-sponsored Chinese Academy of Sciences, Scientists inserted Human Gene MCPH1 into 11 monkey embryos through a virus which was associated with the development of the brain. Six of the 11 Rhesus Macaque monkeys have died. 

James Sikela, a Geneticist working with primates at the University of Colorado, told in an interview "It is a very risky way to use transgenic monkeys to study human genes associated with the development of the brain." 

According to the scientific team in China, the experiment was an attempt to understand the development process, which led to the development of human intelligence. Researchers believe that MCPH1 genes can provide a part of the answer.

Scientists organized several trials on transgenic monkeys, which included MRI scan and memory test, which showed that monkeys had a better short-term memory and faster response time than the control group. Their brains took longer to develop, similarly as it takes place in humans.

Martin Styner, a Computer Scientist from the University of North Carolina, who is listed as a co-writer in the study, told in an interview that he was considering pulling his name from the paper. The role of the Styler was limited to teaching Chinese students how to use MRI data to collect data of the human brain.

Styler added that "When we do experiments, we should have a good understanding of what we are trying to learn, to help society,  and that is not the case "."I don’t think that is a good direction. They are trying to understand the development of the brain. And I do not think they're reaching there."

In an email interview with Vox, Barbara J. King, an emeritus professor of anthropology at William and Mary's College, said that the justification for the experiment was not correct.

The king said, "Six of the genetically modified monkeys - died from living, so right off the bat we see that the procedure is often fatal."

China has been on suspicion of scientific progress. In January, Chinese scientists deliberately cloned monkeys with genes that gave them debilitating congenital illness. The purpose of these modifications was to use these genes as models for the development of various gene-based diseases.

Scientists modified their genes in a way to disturb the monkey's natural sleep cycle, or circadian rhythm. Monkeys are susceptible to have a life with anxiety, depression, and schizophrenia.

The Atlantic reported that many American scientists fly to China to perform experiments that are ethically objectionable in the United States. Meanwhile, the Chinese regime has also increased funding for such research projects over the years.

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