Genetically Modified Monkeys

They can glow in the dark!

New Biotechnology makes the genetic modification of a primate possible

Baby macaque monkeys have recently become the first primate species to have been genetically modified, using an extremely procise gene-editing tool based on the CRISPR/Car protein system. Although animals like rats and mice have been extremely helpful in the study of human disease and development, they lack the neurological characteristics of the human body. However, with a new gene-editing system, it is now being debated that the new lab rat should be the monkey, due to their neurological capacity. They may be helpful in the study of neurological conditions such as autism and Alzheimer's.

How the CRISPR works...

First and foremost, CRISPR stands for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats. This refers to certain repeated letter sequences in the "A, T, G, C" DNA strand. Basically, whenever the CRISPR-associated proteins (that live inside certain types bacteria and archaea) encounter an organism that could try to destroy the bacteria, the CRISPR-associated proteins go through a process to protect the cell. First, they cut through the DNA, then they make an RNA copy of the sliced DNA so that they have the information on where to cut the DNA if one like it is ever encountered again.

Scientists have used the CRISPR system to their advantage by inserting specialized RNA, with information to cut the DNA exactly where they want, into the bacteria. This bacteria is, then, inserted into the monkey. Basically, scientists have turned a bacteria defense system into a precise gene-editing tool.

How this technology is being used today

Today this technology is being used to inflict a virus into marmoset monkeys that cause their skin, hair roots, and blood to glow in UV light. What makes this epidemic so important is the fact the trait was passed on through mulitple generations of the marmosets. Scientists say that by using the same method they used to turn these monkeys a fluorescent green, they can alter their genetic make up to give the monkeys diseases that are very similar to Parkinson's, MS, and Alzheimer's. The researchers claim that it is important to use monkeys rather than lab rats (which they have used in the past), due to the fact that the monkeys are much more similar to humans, and, therefore, more effective cures to these diseases can be found.
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Although this work wonders in the world of medicine and the curing of life-threating disease, the drawbacks are nearly endless.

Many scientist have speculated that "instead of inflicting great suffering on other species, the research industry should be investing its substantial intellect, ingenuity and resources into finding more appropriate methods to fight human disease." (Michelle Thew).

Also, this sudden advance in human technology heightens the idea of human perfection and idealism. By finding the cure to many of these diseases, the door to genetically engineering humans and animals just for experimental purposes is flung wide open.

It is also observed that the public has no say in this scary advancement, nor do many of them even have a clue that it is going on.

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