For the first time, scientists have used gene editing techniques to make the brains of monkeys more human.
The monkeys, the rhesus macaques, became smarter: they had superior memories of unaltered monkeys, according to recently published research that sparked heated debate among ethicists about the extent to which scientists should be able to carry out genetic experimentation.
The team of Chinese scientists edited the human version of a gene called MCPH1 In the macaques. The new gene caused the brains of the monkeys to develop along a more human timeline. The genetically hacked monkeys had better reaction times and short-term memories compared to their unaltered companions, according to China Daily.
But not all are on board.
"The use of transgenic monkeys to study human genes related to the evolution of the brain is a very risky path," said University of Colorado geneticist James Sikela. MIT Technology Review. "It's a clbadic problem with a slippery slope and one that we can expect to repeat as this type of research is done."
Identifying the gene's role in intelligence could help scientists understand how humans evolved to be so smart, MIT Tech reports.
While altering a gene to improve memory in some macaques will not discourage Darwinism. However, there is no risk of a "Planet of the Apes" style uprising, but it could teach us how humanity became so intelligent and gives us clues as to why
READ MORE: Chinese scientists have put human brain genes in monkeys, and yes, they can be smarter
The[[MIT Technology Review]
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