A team of Chinese researcher used genetic engineering to modify a group of monkeys as they aimed to make them smarter. Many members of the scientific community consider that the experiment is unethical and reckless.
The entire experiment has been described in a study. The team started by isolating a human gene known as microcephalin, (also known as MCPH1) which is expressed by the brain during the fetal stage and it linked to brain size. A group of Rhesus monkey embryos was exposed to genetically-enhanced viruses which carried the gene. The cells present in the brain of the monkeys used in the experiment featured some of the traits observed in human brain cells.
One of the researchers stated that the experiment marks the first attempt to understand how the human cognition evolves by using a transgenic model. Since the human brain needs more time to develop and mature some researchers believe that this could be one of the reasons which make humans smarter.
Chinese researchers injected human genes in the monkeys’ brains in a genetic engineering experiment
The researchers noted that the monkeys could be genetically-enhanced to become more intelligent and it seems that the specimens involved in the research have a superior short-term memory as they scored better on memory tests which use colors and pictures.
According to a popular scientific journal the experiment has been heavily criticized by other researchers. A well-known expert declared that the use of transgenic monkeys in such trials is not appropriate since it can easily pave the road to other questionable tests.
PETA representatives strongly condemned the methods used in the experiment. The monkey used in the operations are already highly intelligent, and they can feel a range of emotions and sensations, including extreme pain. For the sake of the experiment, female monkeys were cut and fertilized artificially, with many of the pregnancies failing. In the cases where the infants survived further cruelty was inflicted as they were removed from their mothers almost immediately, some for the sole purpose of being dissected.
Brad is a former Senior Fellow at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University, is an award-winning travel, culture, and parenting writer. His writing has appeared in many of the Canada’s most respected and credible publications, including the Toronto Star, CBC News and on the cover of Smithsonian Magazine. A meticulous researcher who’s not afraid to be controversial, he is nationally known as a journalist who opens people’s eyes to the realities behind accepted practices in the care of children. Brad is a contributing journalist to Advocator.ca