Scientists genetically engineer autistic monkeys in China

Scientists genetically engineer autistic monkeys in China

A team of scientists in China has genetically engineered monkeys that are autistic in order to better understand the condition and work towards a cure.

The team from the Chinese Academy of Sciencesengineered monkeys that have a rare human gene related to autism. The gene causes brain malfunctions and results in disorder and cause behavioural problems. The team is studying transgenic monkeys to understand social isolation and repetitive behaviour that are commonly seen in autism affected persons.

Zilong Qui, lead researcher of the study said, "We think this transgenic monkey offers a unique model to study human autism disorders." Experts said that researchers have focused on mice for several years but monkeys might offer a better understanding as their brains are much similar to human brain. The monkeys in the study showed several psychiatric symptoms of autism including pacing in circles and decreased social interaction. Two monkeys also became very sick like observed in some human children with autism gene defect.

The team is also using the genetically modified monkeys to study other diseases including Huntington's disease and Parkinson's disease. Some have raised concerns about the controversial study but others have said that it is necessary to find cures for the diseases.

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