New Technology Allows for Precise Genetic Engineering in Primates
Using a relatively new technology called CRISPR, scientists in China have managed to make multiple, precise genetic changes to the fertilized eggs of monkeys. Two of these fertilized eggs developed into twins that carried genetic changes in the right place with no evidence of changes elsewhere in their DNA — and there are more genetically altered monkeys waiting to be born. We are now entering an era where we can cleanly and predictably change the DNA of primates.
In the near term, monkeys like these will help scientists find treatments for human diseases more quickly. Right now scientists tend to use rats and mice as model systems and what often works well in these animals does not translate to people. This shouldn’t be the case for monkeys. They are so closely related to us that any medicines that work on them have a pretty good shot of working on us too.
It is the long term where things get interesting. If scientists can make these sorts of genetic changes in monkeys, it is only a matter of time before we can do it in people too. In fact, it is close enough that scientists are already working on this sort of thing in a startup in Boston called Editas medicine.
Full Story: KQED