Scientists splice human genes in ape brains to make them bigger and smarter


Posted: Friday, November 20, 2020 2:29 PM CST.

By Aaron Humes: Recalling the 2011 film, “Rise of the Planet of the Apes,” Japanese and German researchers used a gene that directs human brain stem cells to genetically modify those in marmoset fetuses, according to the New York Post.

The study found that the brains of primates injected with ARHGAP11B “became more human by developing larger and more advanced neocortices – the area that controls cognition and language,” according to the study published in the journal Science in June. According to images released by the researchers, the modified monkey brain almost doubled in size at around 100 days of gestation.

Ultimately, however, the scientists chose to abort the monkey fetuses due to “unforeseeable consequences.”

Nevertheless, study author Michael Heide said their hypothesis was proven: “We did indeed find that the neocortex of the common marmoset’s brain was enlarged and the surface of the brain was folded up…

The neocortex is the most recent part of the brain to evolve – a sign that ARHGAP11B may have caused the brain to grow during human evolution, the researchers said.

The study was conducted by the Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Germany and the Central Institute for Experimental Animals in Japan.

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