Monkey gets green gene

September 21, 2001

Scientists are a step closer to creating a truly transgenic primate after successfully inserting a functional green fluorescent jellyfish "reporter gene" into rhesus macaque embryos.

The genes functioned within the monkey's placentas while in the womb. However, they were not carried in the infants' DNA.

The experiment follows the birth of a rhesus macaque carrying non-functional transgenic DNA eight months ago in Oregon.

The team from the Wisconsin Regional Primate Research Center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the American Red Cross hope the work will help provide a new way to explore the role of genes in pathologies of pregnancy such as recurrent spontaneous miscarriage.

The research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , marks the first time a gene transferred into a primate embryo has been functional throughout development to a successful live birth.

The genetic similarity of rhesus macaques and humans makes the monkey a particularly useful model for research into the safety and effectiveness of human gene and stem-cell therapy.

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