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China’s gene-edited monkey clones raise ethical concerns

Researchers said the monkeys demonstrated increased anxiety and depression, reduced sleep time, and schizophrenia-like behaviours. With the gene turned off, they are at greater risk of developing a host of diseases.

NICK WHIGHAM: ‘China’s latest monkey cloning experiment has sparked outrage and been labelled “monstrous” by animals welfare advocates. Researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences Institute of Neuroscience have cloned five monkey babies from a single donor with genes edited to cause diseases. The Chinese scientists tinkered with a specific gene in the original donor monkey to produce the unhealthy animals which they say will help medical research.

The gene is BMAL1, which helps regulate the circadian rhythm… With the gene turned off, the animals are at greater risk of developing sleeping problems, hormonal disorders and a host of diseases. Researchers said the monkeys demonstrated increased anxiety and depression, reduced sleep time, and even “schizophrenia-like behaviours,” according to a pair of papers published by the scientists in the National Science Review. All five macaques were born with identical genes, which include the mutation…

Animals rights advocated have slammed the latest experiment. Dr Julia Baines, Science Policy Adviser at PETA UK, said: “Genetically manipulating and then cloning animals is a monstrous practice that causes animals to suffer”… The team behind the latest experiment reiterated that position in the statement this week, saying the institute is following strict international guidelines for animal research’. SOURCE…

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