Monkeys with human brain genes have been created by scientists

Federico Mansilla
Abril 14, 2019

However, a new breed of super monkeys whose brains evolve just like human ones - slower but with faster reaction times and short-term memory - increases the chances of such experiments getting out of hand, therefore becoming more than just a popular cinematic ploy.

Nevertheless, the researchers involved in the brain modification study intend to continue their work and may begin experimenting with different human brain genes in the future.

"Our findings demonstrated that transgenic nonhuman primates (excluding ape species) have the potential to provide important - and potentially unique - insights into basic questions of what actually makes human unique", the authors wrote. "Styner goes on to say ".not looking forward to more evolution research on transgenic monkeys.

The monkeys were later tested in order to establish the impact the human gene had on the brain development and scientists found that, while the monkey's brains were not larger than normal, they had improved memory and were able to better process certain abilities. "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". One such critic is University of Colorado geneticist James Sikela who wrote a 2010 paper arguing that transgenic experimentation on primates raises a number of ethical problems, as well as physical harm.

The science itself is also highly dubious and fundamentally flawed in its logic, she said.

"If you took Einstein as a baby and you raised him in the lab he wouldn't turn out to be Einstein", Meynell said.

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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. Multiple genes and their interactions affect the vast majority of traits.

The study, which claims to look into the unique evolution of human intelligence, inserted the MCPH1 - a gene which plays a pivotal role in developing the human brain. But, the monkey did not possess bigger brains than the control group. As Vox reports, Su told the journal Nature in 2016 that he was also keen to experiment with FOXP2 a gene that expresses a protein required for the proper development of speech and language. "And I don't think they are getting there".

Members of the scientific community are divided over a recent experiment that involved implanting human genes into monkeys' brains, even though a Chinese researcher is defending the experiment's goal. "After all, the 2011 movie, 'Rise of the Planet of the Apes", began with a monkey being genetically modified for research into Alzheimer's disease.

It was conducted by researchers at the Kunming Institute of Zoology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, working with U.S. researchers at the University of North Carolina. In November a Chinese scientist claimed he had created the world's first gene-edited babies, sparking an global outcry.

Two years ago, American researchers succeeded in creating human-pig chimera embryos with the ultimate goal of one day growing human organs in animals for transplant.

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