April 13, 2019 14:36 EDT
(Photo: Thor Razan Ahmed)
Genetic engineering, as a direct manipulation of the genes of a living organism, has progressed as it has faced many ethical problems.
Recently, a group of Chinese scientists implanted human brain genes in 11 rhesus monkeys. As the team explains, the study aims to give a different perspective on the evolution of human intelligence.
Human versions of the MCPH1 gene were used in the study. This gene is supposed to be under control with respect to the development of the human brain.
In their study, rhesus monkeys took longer than humans to develop their brains. The subject monkeys would also have performed better tests than unmodified subjects. The tests, focused on short-term memory and reaction time, allowed five monkeys to wear well and obtain a passing score. The memory test is to recall colors and shapes on a screen. Later, subject monkeys were examined by MRI.
This test conducted by China has once again fueled debates on ethics, as in its previous biomedical experiment. Ethical concerns have increased because of comparisons with "Planet of the Apes", a dystopian science fiction film.
The research was conducted by a team from the Kunming Institute of Zoology and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. They work in collaboration with a team of American researchers from the University of North Carolina.
Jacqueline Glover, a bioethicist at the University of Colorado, was among those who questioned the ethics of the experiment, even though the authors of the research pointed out that Rhesus monkeys are far enough apart to mitigate any ethical concern . It is still true that monkeys are closer to humans than rodents. Glover stressed that humanizing the subject monkeys would cause them harm, especially with regards to their homes and their features.
One of Hong Kong University's genomic scientists, Larry Baum, explained that the differences between the rhesus monkey genome and the human genome only exceeded a few percent, which is actually millions of different DNA bases between man and monkey. That means only one, if 20,000 genes would have been modified.
Baum pointed out that thanks to this study, they now had evidence confirming the principle that a slower brain cell maturity could be one of the factors that can be used to improve intelligence during the process. Human evolution.
Earlier this year, another team of Chinese scientists cloned a single macaque to create five more.