We have all seen the movie “Dawn of the Planet of Apes”, well, that was just a movie. But, a Chinese scientist is determined to make it true. He transferred human genes into a monkey’s brain. The transgenic experiment is where one gene of an organism is transferred into another organism.
Multiple Universities led by Kumning Institute of Zoology in southwestern China conducted the research to find out how evolution took place in human intelligence.
“Brain size and cognitive skills are the most dramatically changed traits in humans during evolution, and yet the genetic mechanisms underlying these human-specific changes remain elusive, said the report published on March 27 in the China-based journal National Science Review.
In the transgenic experiment, researchers took human copies of the MCPH1 gene, which plays an important role in brain development and transferred the genes into monkey embryos with the help of a virus that carried the gene.
It is very important to know that which part of the gene has to be activated and where the gene has to be added for the better result.
In the study, 11 rhesus monkeys were used. Su Bing, one of the lead researchers from the Kunming Institute of Zoology said experiment had been sanctioned by university’s ethics board and also followed International animal rights standards.
“In the long run, such basic research will also provide valuable information for the analysis of the etiology and treatment of human brain diseases (such as autism) caused by abnormal brain development,” he said in an email to CNN.
Several scientists and researchers are against all this movie like “transgenic concept” and they commented that it is going down to a “risky road.”
University of Colorado geneticist James Sikela said it was a “very risky road to take.”
Out of 11 macaque monkeys, six died and the study was conducted on the remaining five monkeys. Analysis and series of test were conducted and a lot of MRI scans was taken. Researchers found out monkey didn’t have a bigger brain but they were good at short term memory. Their brain developed over a span of time like normal human’s brain do.
University of Colorado bioethicist Jacqueline Glover debated about transgenic experiment.
“To humanize them is to cause harm. Where would they live and what would they do? Do not create a being that can’t have a meaningful life in any context,” Glover said.
Researches on primates are much more open in China. Western scientists think this to be an ethical issue. So, they don’t explore in that field much.
“Exploring the genetic mechanism of human brain evolution is a major issue in the natural sciences, and we will continue our exploration,” he said.