Chinese 'Unethical' Experiment on Monkeys Shows Human-Like Brain Development



Recently, scientists from China's Kunming Institute of Zoology and the Academy of Sciences, together with USA researchers at the University of North Carolina have successfully implanted human brain genes into monkeys.

A rhesus macaque monkey in Thailand. The results suggest that the macaques performed better on short-term memory tasks than their unmodified peers and their brains developed over a longer period of time, which is typical of human development. There wasn't a difference in brain size.

The research, undertaken by multiple universities and led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology in southwestern China, was meant to shed more light on the evolutionary process which led to human intelligence.

These transgenic nonhuman primates may have potential to provide insight into basic questions of what makes humans unique, and in future studies maybe even provide insight into neurodegenerative and social behavior disorders hard to study using other means. This study changed a few of those in just one of about 20,000 genes.

Despite Bing defending the experiment, some scientists aren't on board with it. Barbara J. King, author of How Animals Grieve and an emerita professor of anthropology at the College of William and Mary, told Vox via email that Su's experiment was "an ethical nightmare". "It is troubling the field is steamrolling along in this manner", adds Sikela.

However, serious questions have been raised concerning the ethics of this study.

He eventually grew more and more uncomfortable with the generation of transgenic monkeys, "or even worse, transgenic apes", for studying brain development.

"Now we have created this animal which is different than it is supposed to be", Styner said. "When we do experiments, we have to have a good understanding of what we are trying to learn, to help society, and that is not the case here". "I don't think the monkey will all of a sudden start speaking, but will have some behavioural change", Su said.

Primate research has become hard in the United States and Europe, but China has rushed to apply the latest DNA tools to the animals and has become the first country to create such animals.

Although the monkeys did not develop a larger-than-usual brain size, they appeared to be better than average in memory tests and processing abilities. "Although their genome is close to ours, there are also tens of millions os differences".

Scientists in China have inserted a human gene that plays an important role in our brain's development into the genome of macaque monkeys.

A scientific experiment at a Chinese University put human genes into the brains of 11 monkeys, which showed human like brain development.

"These harms render the conduct of this research ethically unacceptable in apes, justifying regulatory barriers between these species and all other non-human primates for transgenic research", the 2010 paper said. Others argue at what point should science be made to stop, how far should it be allowed to go, and where is that line drawn?

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