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Monkeys' genes altered for study of diseases

Researchers hail the development of primates whose genes can be passed to their offspring, but animal rights advocates object.

May 28, 2009|Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Scientists have created the first genetically modified monkeys that can pass their new genetic attributes to their offspring, a development designed to give researchers new tools for studying human disease, but one that raises a host of thorny ethical questions.

In this case, the Japanese researchers added genes that caused the animals to glow green under a fluorescent light and beget offspring with the same spooky ability. They hope to use the technique to produce animals with Parkinson's, Huntington's and other diseases.

The work, described in today's issue of the journal Nature, was hailed by some medical researchers.

But the research was condemned by animal rights advocates, who said it paves the way for producing colonies of primates conceived expressly to suffer cruel illnesses and undergo potentially painful and dangerous experiments.

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