icon bookmark-bicon bookmarkicon cameraicon checkicon chevron downicon chevron lefticon chevron righticon chevron upicon closeicon v-compressicon downloadicon editicon v-expandicon fbicon fileicon filtericon flag ruicon full chevron downicon full chevron lefticon full chevron righticon full chevron upicon gpicon insicon mailicon moveicon-musicicon mutedicon nomutedicon okicon v-pauseicon v-playicon searchicon shareicon sign inicon sign upicon stepbackicon stepforicon swipe downicon tagicon tagsicon tgicon trashicon twicon vkicon yticon wticon fm

Chinese, US researchers create monkeys with human-like brain development

Chinese, US researchers create monkeys with human-like brain development
A group of monkeys were found to have “human-like” brain development, including faster reactions and better memories, after a joint Sino-American team of researchers spliced a human gene into their genetic makeup.

Researchers from the Kunming Institute of Zoology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), and the University of North Carolina in the United States modified the genes of 11 monkeys (eight first-generation and three second-generation) with the addition of copies of the human gene MCPH1.

Microcephalin (MCPH1) is a key factor in our brain development and, in particular, eventual brain size. Mutations in the gene can lead to the developmental disorder microcephaly, which is characterized by a tiny brain.

Also on rt.com Designer baby steps: World’s first ‘gene-edited’ children born in China

The researchers then used brain imaging and tissue sampling techniques to monitor the development of the transgenic monkeys’ brains.

Their findings showed an altered pattern of cell differentiation by neural stem cells into neurons and glial cells (both critical components of the central nervous system), more closely associated with humans as opposed to monkeys.

READ MORE: Gene-edited Chinese CRISPR babies may have mental ‘superpowers’, researchers warn

The monkeys’ brains also developed at a slower rate than normal in a similar pattern to developmental delay in humans (known as neoteny). Human brains take far longer to develop and refine their neural networks more than primates’ do, meaning we display a protracted childhood relative to our primate cousins.

The human gene-enhanced monkeys showed better short-term memory and quicker reaction times compared to the wild rhesus monkeys in the control group. While only the first step in this specific realm of transgenic neurodevelopment research, it could pave the way for significant research into neurodegenerative and social behavior disorders in humans.  

Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!

Dear readers and commenters,

We have implemented a new engine for our comment section. We hope the transition goes smoothly for all of you. Unfortunately, the comments made before the change have been lost due to a technical problem. We are working on restoring them, and hoping to see you fill up the comment section with new ones. You should still be able to log in to comment using your social-media profiles, but if you signed up under an RT profile before, you are invited to create a new profile with the new commenting system.

Sorry for the inconvenience, and looking forward to your future comments,

RT Team.

Podcasts