Chinese scientists said that they have bred the country’s first genetically engineered rhesus monkey, which could lead to development of cures for diseases ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s.
Scientists used green fluorescent protein (GFP), a substance that was originally isolated from a jellyfish and implanted transgenic embryos in the uteri of surrogate mother monkeys.
According to Ji Weizhi, a researcher with the Kunming Institute of Zoology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the two monkeys were carrying the GFP gene.
An animal tagged with GFP glows green when exposed to ultraviolet light, proving that a key gene sequence has been switched on, reports The China Daily.
“The work is important because medical researchers have wanted an animal model that is closer to the human anatomy than rodents,” said Dr Niu, a member of Weizhi’s team.
Transgenic mice have been the mainstay of pre-clinical lab work and allowed scientists to test their theories before trying them out on human volunteers.
However, it’s a hotbed for controversies, brewed by fears that technology used on primates could be used to create genetically engineered humans.