According to The Asahi Shimbun, a team of researchers has succeeded in immobilizing selected genes of common marmoset using genome editing technology, a breakthrough that could help research on human diseases.
The scientists, from the Central Institute for Experimental Animals (CIEA), Keio University and other institutions, reported the first successful case of such experiments with primates in the world.
Their paper was published in the online edition of U.S. journal Cell Stem Cell on 1 July.
Until now, methods of genome editing to disable particular genes in mice have been established, but there was no similar success with primates.
The team, including Erika Sasaki, the head of the CIEA's Marmoset Research Department, and Hideyuki Okano, a professor of physiology at Keio University, believes that their technique can be applied to design marmoset models with different types of genetic disorders, which will speed research for humans as the common marmoset has a closer gene makeup to humans than mice.
“It will allow us to edit genome more efficiently,” Sasaki said. “(The genetically modified marmoset models) will help researchers unravel the causes of and develop treatment methods for psychological and neurological disorders that are difficult to study in mice.”
In the experiments, the team destroyed genes that relate to the immune system in the fertilized ova of common marmoset using genome editing technology and transferred grown embryos to the wombs of mother monkeys.
Eight of nine babies born from the implanted embryos developed immunodeficiency, which confirmed that the targeted genes were successfully destroyed.
At least two of the babies have survived more than a year after birth. The team confirmed the same genetic modification is evident in semen sampled from the model, meaning that the modification is possibly inheritable.
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