The Chinese are one step closer to finding a way to help fix genetic defects in people.

How you make ask? Through findings in crab-eating macaque monkeys.

Photo by Katnizz

Photo by Katnizz

Two twin monkeys, Mingming and Ningning, were the “first primates to have their genes precisely edited using a gene-snipping tool borrowed from bacteria.” Which basically means that this experiment was the first successful alteration of animals’ genes.

Jiahao Sha of Nanjing Medical University and his colleagues conducted this experiment. They did this by using Cas9, a “part of a primitive ‘immune system’ — known as CRISPRs — that defends against viruses by chopping up ones that the bacteria have encountered before and recognize as threats.”

The team of researchers injected Cas9 in a monkey embryo. They also injected RNA molecules “that would guide the enzyme to three genes the scientists wanted to disrupt.” They disrupted cells involved in the immune system, sex determination and metabolism regulation. By doing this, the researchers hoped for the destruction of each cell which didn’t happen all of the time.

Sha and colleagues hope to find out how disease spread throughout the human body. They also wanted to find a bridge in to developing and testing treatments in primates. The monkey originally injected gave birth to 2 baby twins. That is where Mingming and Ningning come into play. How cute and exciting, baby monkeys?

In the two twins, the Nanjig Medical University students found success in 2 of the 3 genes tested.

The most important finding in this whole experiment was that only the genes intended to be disrupted, were disrupted.  Which suggests “CRISPRs could be used to repair some human genes without inadvertently damaging others.”

I for one am pretty jealous of these researchers because not only are they playing with the adorable monkeys, but they are working to hopefully help save many Americans in the future.


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