Scientists Insert Human Brain Genes into Monkeys


Chinese scientists have recently have inserted human brain genes into monkeys in hopes of a better understanding of human brain development. An ethical debate over the experiment cam e to rise when the research went public. Many say the research “blurs the lines between humans and animals.”

The research was published in the National Science Review on March 27th. The scientists behind the research say, “Genetically altered monkeys can advance our understanding of brain development, which could lead to new treatments for autism and other developmental disorders.”

Not all scientists agree with the experiments, some say the experiments are foul and that scientific gains do not justify the creation of monkeys that could result with human-like intelligence. The scientists wanted to understand the importance of the MCPH1 gene in human brain development. Babies with malfunctioning copies of the gene are often born with a condition called microcephaly, the monkeys version of the gene is slightly different than the human’s gene. They also believe the gene could be responsible for humans’ high intelligence.

They chose to use Rhesus monkeys because they are useful for studying the human brain, as well as one of the best animal models for studying brain development and evolution. The genes are implanted into the pregnant female womb of the monkey, which will be developed into the babies who are born. Scientists then took care of them and did tests on them as they aged to see how the gene affected the monkeys.