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Monkeys born with edited genes

DNA-snipping technique inspired by bacteria shows therapeutic promise

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11:27am, February 1, 2014
two cynomolgus monkeys

EMBRYO EDIT  Two female cynomolgus monkeys named Mingming and Ningning are the first primates to have their genes precisely edited by scientists.

The birth of two monkeys in China provides hope that a new type of gene therapy may one day help correct genetic defects in people.

The two cynomolgus monkeys, also known as crab-eating macaques, are the first primates to have their genes precisely edited using a gene-snipping tool borrowed from bacteria, a team of Chinese scientists reports January 30 in Cell. The work is part of an effort to genetically engineer monkeys to produce mutations like those seen in human diseases, especially ones involving the brain.

Other researchers have inserted foreign genes into primates (SN: 6/20/09, p. 13), but until now, no one has succeeded in altering the animals’ own genes, says Guoping Feng, a neurobiologist at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT who was not involved in the work.

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