A scientist works on a laptop computer. (Photographer: Sanjit Das/Bloomberg)

Chinese Scientists Successfully Clone Five Gene-Edited Monkeys

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese scientists cloned five monkeys from a gene-edited macaque with circadian-related disorders, another first for the country in the controversial field.

The cloned monkeys were born in Shanghai at the Institute of Neuroscience of Chinese Academy of Sciences, according to two articles published in National Science Review on Thursday. Researchers knocked out BMAL1 -- a critical transcription factor for activating circadian rhythms -- through gene editing at the embryo stage, then cloned a monkey with the mutation.

Chinese Scientists Successfully Clone Five Gene-Edited Monkeys

This was the first time multiple monkeys have been cloned from a gene-edited adult male, Xinhua News Agency reported, employing the same method used to create the first cloned monkeys born in China in 2017. The result proves batch cloning of gene-edited male monkeys with diseases is feasible, one of the scientists told Xinhua.

Circadian disturbance is related to many human diseases including sleep disorder, depression and Alzheimer’s disease. The creation of monkeys with a uniform genetic background is useful for developing models of human diseases, which can be used to study therapeutic treatments, the researchers said.

The new studies come after Chinese scientist He Jiankui was fired by his university for altering the genes of twin baby girls as embryos. He triggered an international backlash when he shocked the world with his claims of genetically-altering human embryos that resulted in births.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.