Published: Sat, January 26, 2019
Science | By Michele Flores

Scientists clone five gene-edited monkeys

Scientists clone five gene-edited monkeys

Government investigators have confirmed a Chinese scientist's claim of creating the world's first genetically engineered babies, as well as the existence of a second pregnancy with a gene-edited embryo.

Macaques are chiefly Asian monkeys typically having a sturdy build and including some short-tailed or tailless forms.

The first cohort of five gene-edited monkey clones made from fibroblasts of a monkey with disease phenotypes were born recently at the Institute of Neuroscience (ION) of Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Shanghai.

Muming Poo, director of the Institute of Neuroscience of Chinese Academy of Sciences, introduces the significance of the cloned monkey models with circadian rhythm disorders at a press conference in Shanghai, east China, Jan. 23, 2019.

To create an ideal donor monkey, the researchers knocked out BMAL1, a core circadian regulatory transcription factor, using gene editing at the embryo stage.

The animals will be destined for a life in a laboratory and the scientists claim the gene-edited primates will be used to test groundbreaking new treatments for diseases ranging from brain disorders to cancers.

"Once the gate of gene-editing is wide open, the human race will be finished", he said, quoted in the South China Morning Post. "It shows that, in addition to a fetus is also a gene ditierter male monkey can be used for pooled cloning", said Qiang Sun of the Institute.

The institute of Neuroscience claims to follow strict global guidelines for animal research. They also expect that more gene-edited macaque clones with disease-causing gene mutations will become available for biomedical research in the near future. "Our...monkeys thus could be used to study the diseases pathogenesis, as well as therapeutic treatments", said senior author Hung-Chun Chang.

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The monkey's fibroblasts were used to make the five cloned monkeys. Another woman is carrying a gene-edited foetus.

The scientists say that the five monkeys will soon be ready for medical research.

The absence of the BMAL1 gene will affect the operation of the animals' biological clocks, and could induce a wide range of diseases, sleep problems, nighttime hyperactivity, hormonal disorders, depression and even schizophrenia.

Since Dolly was cloned in Scotland, more than 20 species of mammals have been cloned around the world - including cattle, cats, dogs, horses and rats.

Past year in November, when the experiment came out and He announced to have created a pair of genetically-altered twins - whom he referred as "Nana" and "Lulu" - He said he was "proud" of his creation and second pregnancy was underway.

China announced the birth of two healthy cloned monkeys a year ago - a world first - but the latest development is being hailed as a breakthrough of a different kind. She points out the lack of worldwide guidelines for this kind of research.

The Chinese researchers aim to better the technique used to boost cloning efficiency. Many researchers anxious authorities might overlook He's infractions.

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