This type of experiment has also raised some ethical concerns, however, Su Bing, one of the lead researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Kunming Institute of Zoology, told CNN that the experiment was reviewed by the school's ethics board and it followed worldwide animal rights standards, as well as Chinese and global best scientific practices.
According to the researchers, the experiments represent the first attempt to study the genetic basis of human brain origin using transgenic monkeys.
A Chinese researcher who sparked improved cognitive function in monkeys by implanting human genes into their brains has defended his experiment, which has divided the scientific community. The researchers in China inserted the gene MeCP2 in the genome of macaques, which resulted in the monkeys displaying autism-like behaviors.More news: China Exports Rebounds In March
According to the objective of the study, it was to aid in the research of human psychological issues. "When we do experiments, we have to have a good understanding of what we are trying to learn, to help society, and that is not the case here". In the future, similar research might enable scientists to develop treatments for diseases caused by abnormal brain development.
The research was led by the Kunming Institute of Zoology in southwest China and was meant to examine the genetic basis of the human brain and the evolution of human cognition.
Another gene that may be soon be added inside the monkeys of genomes in subsequent experiments is FOXP2, which is widely believed to be integral to our language abilities.
The University of Alberta's Timothy Caulfield has warned that the more we humanize animals, the more it raises profoundly sticky moral questions, including the remote but not impossible risk animals could somehow develop human consciousness. This gene is also called "humanity's switch" due to its alleged role in the emergence of human intelligence.More news: Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp down worldwide: Singapore, Manila, Bangkok among those hit
James Sikela, a geneticist and professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Colorado, Denver, said that experimenting on transgenic monkeys to understand human evolution is a "classic slippery slope ... and a very risky road to take".
"Our findings demonstrated that transgenic nonhuman primates (excluding ape species) have the potential to provide important - and potentially unique - insights into basic questions of what actually makes human unique", the authors wrote. Critics argue that humans and macaque monkeys are different on many levels and that simply modifying a couple of genes offers little value.
Writing for MIT Technology Review, University of Colorado bioethicist Jacqueline Glover compared the new study from China to something out of the Planet of the Apes, a movie where enhanced primates overthrow humans. "Where would they live and what would they do? Do not create a being that can't have a meaningful life in any context".More news: Leicester City vs. Newcastle United - Football Match Report