In January 2019, scientists in China reported the creation of five identical clonedgene-edited monkeys, using the same cloning technique that was used with Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, and the same gene-editing Crispr-Cas9 technique allegedly used by He Jiankui in creating the first ever gene-modified human babies Lulu and Nana. Scientists in China have cloned five monkeys for human disease research. Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience tinkered with a specific gene in the original donor monkey.
“Disorder of circadian rhythm could lead to many human diseases, including sleep disorders, diabetic mellitus, cancer and neurodegenerative diseases” , said Hung-Chun Chang, a senior author on the studies, which were published in the National Science Review.
This included “many brain diseases, as well as immune and metabolic disorders and cancer”. The cloned monkeys born in Shanghai at the Institute of Neuroscience of Chinese Academy of Sciences are closer to the human in physiology, make better models for research on disease pathogenesis and potential therapeutic treatments.
“Our approach is to perform gene-editing in fertilised embryos to first generate a group of gene-edited monkeys, and then select one monkey that exhibits correct gene-editing and most sever disease phenotypes as the donor monkey for cloning by somatic cell nuclear transfer”, said Qiang Sun, a senior author on the paper. “We believe that this approach of cloning gene-edited monkeys could be used to generate a variety of monkey models for gene-based diseases”, Qiang added.
Somatic genome editing is being used in basic research, using human cells and modifying them for loads of different reasons, said Heidi Howard, a senior researcher at Sweden’s Uppsala University.
The monkey clones were made in order to study several medical diseases. This donor monkey’s cells were then used to clone five new monkeys. And Dr. Julia Baines, Science Policy Advisor at PETA UK, told us: “Genetically manipulating and then cloning animals is a monstrous practice that causes animals to suffer”. The egg then is stimulated to develop into an embryo and implanted in a surrogate mother. Mu-ming said the team wouldn’t try to clone other animals – focusing on monkeys for animal research purposes”. She is the first “cloned” primate by artificial twinning, which is a much less complex procedure than the DNA transfer used for the creation of Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua.
The stated purpose of cloning the monkeys is to provide a supply of genetically identical animals for medical research. The procedures used to alter the monkey’s genes cause suffering and distress, plus the effects are not always predictable”.
Scientists have developed a powerful and convenient model to analyse human cancer, an advance that could lead to individualised therapy for the deadly disease. The study published online this week in the journal Neurobiology of Disease. Graduate student Erkan Osman was the lead author.
China has successfully cloned primates for the first time, bringing science one step closer to making human copies in a lab. Researchers use an electric current to fool the egg into acting fertilized, so that it starts to develop into an embryo.
“We have identified a novel approach for identifying relevant miRNA in cancer biology” , Professor Biffo of the National Institute of Molecular Genetics in Milan explains.
To find a better animal model of autism, Chinese researchers generated monkeys that “overexpress” the human gene, known as MECP2. In humans, having too much MECP2 leads to a condition called MECP2 duplication syndrome, which shares core symptoms with autism spectrum disorder. The research team injected macaque monkey eggs with a virus carrying MECP2.
The two big-eyed primates were created in a process called somatic cell nuclear transfer. Last year a Chinese scientist shocked the world by claiming that he had created the world’s first gene-edited babies. China’s government ordered a halt to the work on Thursday.
People who oppose such experiments say changes to a person’s DNA can pass to future generations. Other scientists hope to use gene editing to end crop diseases such as citrus greening that affects fruits like oranges. In the U. S., a company called Recombinetics is looking to raise new kinds of cows and pigs. The Cambridge team characterized the molecular nature of dormant bowel cancer cells.
This is a major step towards individualised medicine for cancer patients, researchers said.
Image Credits: Images via China Daily