January 26th, 2016
Looks like Chinese researchers had no red tape to cut setting up an experiment that could easily be characterized as unethical. Western researchers don’t have that privilege.
To find a better animal model of autism, Chinese researchers generated monkeys that “overexpress” the human gene, known as MECP2. In humans, having too much MECP2 leads to a condition called MECP2 duplication syndrome, which shares core symptoms with autism spectrum disorder.
The research team injected macaque monkey eggs with a virus carrying MECP2. Once fertilized, the resulting embryos were transferred to surrogate monkeys, yielding eight live births. All of the monkeys carried the human gene.
While the monkeys’ mental abilities appeared largely normal, their behaviors did not. Normally, monkeys sit together and groom each other, but the transgenic monkeys in the study were less socially engaged. They also moved about more frequently in repetitive, circular motions. And, they exhibited increased levels of anxiety when faced by a human, as if they were “trying to defend their territory more,” Qiu said.
As long as the full data set is made public to the community, I’m not going to criticize or judge.