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Crop Biotech Update

Precision Gene Editing and Transgenic Monkeys to Study Human Diseases

November 20, 2013

Emory University geneticist Anthony Chan has successfully developed the first five transgenic monkeys with human mutations particularly for studying Huntington's disease. In 2008, three of these monkeys rapidly developed severe symptoms of the disease much faster than expected. Viruses used to introduce the particular gene had inserted extra copies randomly, worsening the symptoms thus highlighting the method's limitations in creating animal disease models. Thus, Chan, and other scientists worldwide are looking at the possibility of using precision genome-editing techniques that solve such problems by using enzymes and RNA instead of viruses. Furthermore, many scientists now believe that transgenic monkeys will mimic human genetic conditions better than mice — and thus may lead to development of better drugs.

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