Reader Digest

Chinese Scientists Implant Human Brain Genes into Monkeys

Chinese scientists have implanted human brain genes into monkeys, taking another step into what has been described as the “ethical nightmare” realm of gene-editing.

In a study published last month in Beijing’s National Science Review, the journal of the state-sponsored Chinese Academy of Science, scientists inserted the human gene, MCPH1, which has been linked to brain development, into 11 monkey embryos via a virus which carried the gene into the monkeys’ brains.


Of the 11 rhesus macaque monkeys were used in the experiment, six of them died. Experiments were conducted on the remaining five.

“The use of transgenic monkeys to study human genes linked to brain evolution is a very risky road to take,” James Sikela, a geneticist who works with primates at the University of Colorado.



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