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Modifying Monkeys With Genes From Human Brains?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

genetically engineered monkeys

Story at-a-glance -

  • Scientists have tweaked monkey brains using human brain genes
  • The experiment involved transgenic rhesus monkeys, which were genetically engineered to carry human copies of MCPH1, a gene important for brain development
  • The altered animals had better short-term memory and shorter reaction times compared to nonengineered monkeys
  • Researchers from Yale University have restored some function to dead pigs’ brain cells, making them neither dead nor alive but rather “partly alive”
  • We’re only beginning to understand even the questions that need to be asked in order to proceed safely and ethically, but, as is often the case with technology, science is moving faster than the moral implications can be considered, much less understood

In the latest developments that sound like they came straight from a science fiction novel, or maybe the start of a horror movie, scientists have tweaked monkey brains using human brain genes. The experiment involved transgenic rhesus monkeys, which were genetically engineered to carry human copies of MCPH1, a gene important for brain development.

While the researchers claim the study provides value "in understanding human unique traits" in brain development, at least one of them — University of North Carolina computer scientist Martin Styner — seems to be having second thoughts and even considered removing his name from the study. Styner told MIT Technology Review:


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