“CRISPR-Cas9”, also known as CRISPR, is a relatively new technology that allows scientists to alter the human genome and gene function. CRISPR has been popularized for its many potential abilities, namely, to cure human diseases, but a recent experiment by researchers in Shanghai has shown further use for CRISPR. In a study published in the National Science Review on January 24, Scientists in Shanghai cloned 5 gene-edited Macaque monkeys. The scientists used CRISPER to edit the monkey’s genomes and remove BMAL1, which controls circadian regulation, to create sleeps disorders. The scientists then chose the monkey with the “correct gene editing and most severe disease phenotypes” to clone, a feat first done in China January of 2018.
Their ultimate goal is to be able to produce genetically identical monkeys for gene disease and biomedical research, and reduce the overall amount of monkeys used for scientific research. “We believe that this approach of cloning gene-edited monkeys could be used to generate a variety of monkey models for gene-based diseases, including many brain diseases, as well as immune and metabolic disorders and cancer,” says Qiang Sun in the statement. “This line of research will help to reduce the amount of macaque monkeys currently used in biomedical research around the world,” says study coauthor Mu-ming Poo. “Because the clones wouldn’t have confounding genetic differences, preclinical drug trials may be able to get by with fewer animals, Poo suggests.”