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Researchers have developed a technique to create genetically modified monkeys that suffer from human illnesses.
Experimenting on these monkeys, they believe, will advance our understanding and treatment of incurable conditions such as Parkinson's disease and multiple sclerosis. However, the scientific breakthrough has caused consternation among groups opposed to animal experiments because the development will almost certainly lead to a sudden increase in the number of primates used in medical research at a time when there are calls for fewer monkeys to be used in experiments.
The creation of the first transgenic mouse in the 1980s led to an dramatic increase in the use of laboratory mice during the 1990s. In 1990, there were less than 50,000 experiments involving transgenic mice in Britain – a mere 1.5 per cent of the total – but by 2007 the number of transgenic mice used in experiments grew to more than 1.1 million, according to Home Office statistics.
The scientists managed to inject the jellyfish gene into 80 marmoset IVF embryos which were transferred into 50 surrogate mothers. Seven animals became pregnant and four of them gave birth to five live babies.
All five offspring were transgenic animals carrying the jellyfish gene, which caused the production of a green fluorescent protein in the skin of the monkeys which made their hands glow under ultraviolet light.
Most importantly, the scientists demonstrated that the jellyfish gene had become incorporated into the reproductive cells of two of the five marmosets – the sperm of a male and the eggs of a female – both of which subsequently produced a second generation of marmosets carrying the transgenic gene.
It is this breakthrough that could now lead to the establishment of breeding colonies of transgenic monkeys that are each specifically engineered with genes that simulate the symptoms of human disorders to allow them to be used as experimental models, just as transgenic mice have been used in their millions over the past 20 years.
Originally posted by John_Q_Llama
I have to say that the whole subject of transgenics and genetic manipulation scares me. To think that the genetic material from two or more distinct species can be combined to create a completely new species is hard to swallow. While I do understand that there are great potential benefits, such as the ones stated in your linked article, something just doesn't sit right in me. The risk of having one of the new creations somehow make it out into the wild and begin mating and spreading it's engineered DNA seems so dangerous.
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