China successfully clones five gene edited monkeys; raises fresh ethical concerns


A team of researchers at the Institute of Neuroscience of Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai has successfully developed five gene edited monkeys, in an attempt to create new milestones in treating diseases like Alsheimer's.

It should be noted that this is for the first time that multiple clones had been made from a gene edited monkey for biomedical research.

The announcement was made in the Chinese medical journal National Science Review, and it has already raised fresh ethical concerns. In the earlier days, animals like mice and flies were widely used for biomedical research. As these animal models differ greatly from humans when it comes to brain structure and activity routines, experts believe that more research conducted on monkeys will gradually help to treat diseases on humans.

During the research, researchers knocked out a core circadian regulatory tranion factor named BMAL1, using gene editing at the embryo stage to create an ideal donor monkey. Later, the researchers used the fribroblasts of the donor to clone monkeys by somatic cell nuclear transfer.

Earlier, Chinese researchers had used the same method to generate Zhong Zhong and Hua Hua, cloned monkeys that took birth in 2017.

A few weeks back. He Jiankui, a Chinese scientists shook the entire medical world after he claimed to have created human babies using CRISPR gene editing. Shockingly, the scientist went missing a few days after he made the revelation, and later, it was confirmed that he is under house arrest.

As He Jiankui's house arrest continued for more than a month, some of his colleagues shared their concerns that he is going to face strict legal actions from the communist regime in China. Some of Jiankui's friends even believe that the scientist could face the death penalty. Even now, the house arrest status of He Jiankui still remains a mystery.

This article was first published on January 24, 2019