Monkeys in Japan are being genetically engineered to have Parkinson's disease. A team of researchers at the Keio University School of Medicine in Tokyo have created monkeys with conditions which mimic the symptoms of Parkinson's. The primates, born three years ago, have been bred to possess a mutated version of the human gene linked to the disease. The controversial research has also produced monkeys suffering from Alzheimer’s and motor neurone disease.
Dr Jarrod Bailey, Senior Science Advisor at Cruelty Free International, said: “The superficial similarity between human and monkeys is of little benefit when it comes to research into neurological diseases like Parkinson’s. You cannot overcome the massive differences between humans and non-human primates by modifying one or two genes. Applying data from monkeys to humans is highly unreliable and of questionable value, especially when alternative methods are available to scientists.
Instead of persisting with such a poor and cruel approach, scientists should be focussing their efforts on the greater use and development of more human-relevant methods, such as ethical studies on patients or using ‘brain on a chip’ and 3D tissue cultures.”