Transgenic monkey

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Transgenic monkey

The so-called "transgenic" monkeys provide a very unique model for studying human autism. Currently, gene-altered mice are widely used to model human genetic conditions, but scientists cite obvious limitations. There was a doubt whether can mimic the complicated symptoms. The hope is that developing better animal models, such as monkeys. It may lead to important new autism therapies for people. This takes us one step closer to having better tools to understand the biological and genetic underpinnings of the signs and symptoms of autism. But, it's still a tool on that long road to discovering new medicines and interventions. One in 160 children globally has autism spectrum disorder, a cluster of complex brain-development disorders in which symptoms include repetitive movements and problems with social interaction. Chinese researchers generated monkeys that "overexpress" the human gene, known as MECP2. In humans, having too much MECP2 leads to a condition called MECP2 duplication syndrome, which shares core symptoms with autism spectrum disorder for better animal model of autism. The research team injected macaque monkey eggs with a virus carrying MECP2. Once fertilized, the resulting embryos were transferred to surrogate monkeys, yielding eight live births. All of the monkeys carried the human gene. While the monkeys' mental abilities appeared largely normal, their behaviors did not. Normally, monkeys sit together and groom each other, but the transgenic monkeys in the study were less socially engaged. They also moved about more frequently in repetitive, circular motions. And, they exhibited increased levels of anxiety when faced by a human, as if they were trying to defend their territory more the researchers also showed that the gene could be passed along to the next generation, a step toward creating colonies of transgenic monkeys for research. Five offspring of one of the genetically altered male monkeys carried the human gene, and those baby monkeys were less social than wild monkeys of a similar age. MECP2 could be useful in illuminating brain pathways that impact autism patients' intellectual and cognitive (mental) function, but it's not perfect. For example, the gene-altered monkeys did not have seizures, a key feature of MECP2 duplication syndrome. Currently, Chinese team is using brain imaging to try to identify the brain circuits responsible for the autism-like behavior. Once the target areas are identified, the researchers intend to use a powerful new gene-editing tool, called CRISPR/Cas9, to manipulate the gene and explore potential therapies.

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