China's latest monkey cloning experiment has sparked offrage and was labeled "monstrous" by animal welfare advocates.
Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience have cloned five monkey babies from a single donor with genes edited to cause diseases .
The Chinese scientists tinkered with a specific gene in the original donor monkey to produce the unhealthy animals that they say will help medical research
The gene is BMAL1
Researchers said the monkeys demonstrated increased anxiety and depression, reduced sleep time, and even "schizophrenia-like behaviors, "
" Disorders of circadian rhythm could lead to a mutation. "
" Disorder of circadian rhythm could lead many BMAL1-knock out monkeys can be used to study pathogenesis as well as therapeutic treatments, "said Hung-Chun Chang, senior author and investigator of
Researchers used a cloning technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer to produce the fiv
It is also the same method used to clone Dolly the sheep more than two decades ago
The experiment to clone the two healthy monkeys, reported in the journal Cell in January last year, also caused some apprehension among the broader scientific community
"The genie's out of the bottle now," said Jose Cibelli at the time, a cloning expert at Michigan State University in the US
Animals rights advocated have slammed the latest experiment. Dr. Julia Baines, Science Policy Adviser at PETA UK, said: "Genetically manipulating and then cloning animals is a monstrous practice that causes animals to suffer."
But speaking to news.com.au in June, Director of the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience and co-author of the latest papers, Dr Mu-ming Poo, defended the practice of using cloned animals for medical research
"More cloned monkeys will soon be produced," he said at the time. "Some of them will carry gene mutations known to cause human brain disorders, in order to generate useful monkey models for drug development and treatment."
It is important to note that primates share approximately 95 percent of human genes and a number of physiological and anatomical similarities, biomedical research currently uses a large number of monkeys, sometimes up to 100,000 annually around the globe
"This number will be greatly reduced by the use of monkeys with uniform genetic background that reduces noise in experimental studies , "Dr. "
" This will greatly help the ethical use of non-human primates for biomedical purposes. "
The team behind the latest experiment reiterated this position in the This is a statement that says the Institute is following strict international guidelines for animal research.
The gene-edited monkey clones come on the heels of a rogue Chinese scientist announcing that he used CRISPR technology to create the world's first gene-edited human babies .
The controversial doctor made headlines last November after claiming he altered human embryos resulting in the birth of genetically edited twin girls
This story originally appeared in news.com.au