Scientists from the Institute of Neuroscience in China just announced they edited the genes of a group of macaque monkeys to induce mental illness and then cloned one of the males who exhibited the most severe symptoms. The procedure resulted in five cloned monkey babies.
The announcement follows the shocking news in November that an experiment in China resulted in the births of the first gene-edited human babies. Although the latest study involved animals, it presents another chilling reminder that scientific know-how may be rushing ahead of our ability to contain it.
“The more we see this practicing take place in animals, especially in the higher primates, there is the concern, how far is this going to go?” Tara Sander Lee, associate scholar of biochemistry with the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told me.
As the only country that has developed the ability to clone primates, China closely guards the technology. At this point, the process is very inefficient. It took 325 embryos implanted in 65 surrogate females to produce the five gene-edited monkey clones.
“As technology for the cloning of primates has been solved, theoretically humans can be cloned,” Poo Mu-ming, director of the Institute of Neuroscience, said in a statement last year announcing the very first cloned monkeys. “We have no plan to clone humans, and social ethics would by no means allow that practice.”
But that assurance rings a little hollow in light of recent events. After all, laws were in place to prevent the production of gene-edited human babies, but it happened anyway.
Read more at World Mag.