Chinas scientists accused of playing God by creating monstrous cloned apes and primates with human organs – The Sun

CHINESE scientists have been accused of being real-life Dr Frankensteins who play God by cloning apes and editing the genes of babies.

Some of their work has been dubbed monstrous while other cutting edge research could lead to cures for Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

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It's important to note that the US and the UK are not immune from conducting tests on animals and in fact carry out THOUSANDS of experiments on primates every year.

However, China has become the capital of research on apes and monkeys believing that our closest relatives hold the key to understanding brain disorders that destroy lives.

Incredibly, the Institute of Neuroscience (ION) in Shanghai, cloned five infant monkeys last year from an adult macaque who had been genetically-edited.

The result was baby primates intentionally born with a mutation that disrupts their wake-sleep cycle.

By giving the monkeys new drugs to treat their pre-existing brain disorders, the scientists hope to develop treatments for illnesses such as Alzheimer's disease.

It's no wonder the ION has been dubbed the "Cern of primate neurobiology".

The Institute successfully cloned two macaque monkeys in 2018 - a world first giving the experts confidence to push ahead with further experiments.

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Heaping praise on the research, the Chinese Academy of Sciences said: "The achievement heralds a new era in which China can produce batches of standardised monkey clones, which will serve as animal models in the research of the brain's cognitive functions, early diagnoses and interventions of diseases, as well as research and development of drugs.

While China allows genetic manipulation on animals it has banned the use of gene-editing on humans but that hasn't stopped some of its scientists "playing God" with unborn children.

Scientist He Jiankui, 35, rocked the scientific world when he revealed he had altered the embryos of twin girls in 2018.

In December last year, it was revealed that a third child born to a different mum had also been gene-edited.

The rogue expert said he used a tool called Crispr to disable a gene that allows the AIDS virus to enter cells in a bid to make the children immune from the disease.

But why have such experiments been dubbed monstrous by others within the scientific community?

Experts claim gene-editing in people could "divide humans into subspecies" and can cause mutations, genetic problems and even cancer.

Dr Kiran Musunuru, an expert in this area from the University of Pennsylvania, called the experiment unconscionable an experiment on human beings that is not morally or ethically defensible.

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Professor Julian Savulescu, of the University of Oxford, said: If true, this experiment is monstrous.

The embryos were healthy. No known diseases. Gene editing itself is experimental and is still associated with off-target mutations, capable of causing genetic problems early and later in life, including the development of cancer.

There are many effective ways to prevent HIV in healthy individuals: for example, protected sex.

Last December, Mr Jiankui was jailed for three years after news of the third child's birth was revealed.

He was convicted of practising medicine without a licence and fined 330,000 by a court in Shenzhen, the Xinhua news agency reported.

One of the most controversial experiments to date was the creation of embryos that were part human and part primate.

Last year, Spaniard Juan Carlos Izpisa Belmonte led a team of Chinese researchers with the end goal of creating monkeys which have entirely human organs such as kidneys or livers.

The organs will then be used for human transplants.

Based in China, the team made the chimeras a single organism with cells from more than one genotype - by injecting human stem cells into a fresh monkey embryo.

Biologist Belmonte previously tried adding human cells to embryos of pigs but the disturbing experiment was not successful.

However, because primates are genetically related to humans, the chances of the new research being successful is much greater.

The scientists also use gene-editing technology to disable certain cell formations in the animals to give the human cells a better chance of thriving.

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In the US and other western democracies, such research is banned however in China, experts are allowed to push the boundaries of scientific ethics.

Importantly, no Frankenstein monster has been born as a result of this research... not yet anyway.

Instead, the hybrid embryos are allowed to develop for around two weeks so their progress can be studied.

Mr Belmonte defended his work with the Chinese, saying: History shows us time and time again that, over time, our ethical and moral standards change and mutate, like our DNA, and what yesterday was ethically unacceptable, if this really represents an advance for the progress of humanity, today it is already an essential part of our lives."

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A similar experiment involved two piglets who were born with monkey cells in December at the State Key Laboratory of Stem Cell and Reproductive Biology in Beijing.

The so-called 'pig-monkey chimeras' died a week later.

Away from China, one of the most sinister experiments took place at the University of Munich where two monkeys were given transplanted pig hearts.

The poor creatures died after six months in a study which was deemed a success.

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Chinas scientists accused of playing God by creating monstrous cloned apes and primates with human organs - The Sun

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