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Unbelievable: Creation of Monkeys with Human Brain Genes

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Ever heard of monkeys with human brain? Yes, Chinese scientists have implanted human brain genes into monkeys. It was a part of study intended to provide insights into the unique evolution of human intelligence.

Researchers inserted human versions of MCPH1, a gene that scientists believe plays a role in the development of the human brain, into 11 rhesus monkeys.

They found the monkeys' brains like those of humans took a longer time to develop and the animals performed better in tests of short-term memory as well as reaction time compared to wild monkeys.

Besides, the monkeys did not grow bigger brains than the control group.

Adding to it, the latest test in a series of biomedical experiments in China to have fuelled medical ethics debates, has already drawn ethical concerns, and comparisons with dystopian sci-fi "Planet of the Apes.

The test was conducted by researchers at the Kunming Institute of Zoology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences, working with US researchers at the University of North Carolina. It was published last month in Beijing-based journal National Science Review.

The authors wrote, "Our findings demonstrated that transgenic nonhuman primates (excluding ape species) have the potential to provide important and potentially unique insights into basic questions of what actually makes human unique."

Interestingly, the monkeys underwent memory tests requiring them to remember colours and shapes on a screen, and were subjected to MRI scans. Only five of the monkeys survived into the testing stage. 

The authors said the rhesus monkey, though genetically closer to humans than rodents, is still distant enough to alleviate ethical concerns.



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