Chinese scientists clone gene-edited monkeys

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Scientists in China have successfully cloned monkeys with genetic disease symptoms, according to two papers published in National Science Review.

Science China Press reports that researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences used the CRISPR-Cas9 method on in-vitro fertilized monkey embryos. With no BMAL1 to help manage their circadian rhythm, the resulting monkeys exhibited "a wide range of circadian disorder phenotypes."

After taking a fibroblast from the gene-edited monkey, scientists used somatic cell nuclear transfer to replace the nucleus of a monkey egg cell with the fibroblast nucleus.

Three hundred and twenty-five embryos were implanted in 65 surrogate monkeys. This resulted in 16 pregnancies but only five live births.

All five cloned monkeys carried the altered BMAL1 gene introduced in the donor monkey. They also showed the same circadian disorder symptoms, such as reduced sleep, increased night activity, increased anxiety and depression, and schizophrenia-like behaviors.

The Chinese team claims the identical specimens could be useful in studying disease pathogenesis and treatment. Cloning genetically altered animals could also reduce the number needed for research.

But the experiment raises many ethical concerns, especially with regard to animal rights. A video showing the five monkeys behaving erratically has been widely described as disturbing.

According to Futurism, scientists are also questioning whether insight gleaned from such research would even translate to humans, since many animal studies do not.

RUNDOWN SHOWS:
1. Scientists use CRISPR Cas9 to alter BMAL1 gene in monkey embryo
2. Gene-edited monkey cloned using somatic cell nuclear transfer
3. 325 embryos implanted in 65 surrogate monkeys result in 16 pregnancies, 5 live births
4. Monkey clones all have altered BMAL1 gene, exhibit circadian disorder symptoms

VOICEOVER (in English):
"Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences used the CRISPR-Cas9 method on in-vitro fertilized monkey embryos."

"With no BMAL1 to help manage their circadian rhythm, the resulting monkeys exhibited 'a wide range of circadian disorder phenotypes.'"

"After taking a fibroblast from the gene-edited monkey, scientists used somatic cell nuclear transfer to replace the nucleus of a monkey egg cell with the fibroblast nucleus."

"Three hundred and twenty-five embryos were implanted in 65 surrogate monkeys. This resulted in 16 pregnancies but only five live births."

"All five cloned monkeys carried the altered BMAL1 gene introduced in the donor monkey."

"They also showed the same circadian disorder symptoms, such as reduced sleep, increased night activity, increased anxiety and depression, and schizophrenia-like behaviors."

SOURCES:
National Science Review, Science China Press, Futurism
https://academic.oup.com/nsr/advance-article/doi/10.1093/nsr/nwz002/5290357
https://academic.oup.com/nsr/advance-article/doi/10.1093/nsr/nwz003/5290358
https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2019-01/scp-gdm012119.php
https://futurism.com/the-byte/cloned-monkeys-gene-edited-chinese