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Gene for glowing passed along to monkey offspring

This composite photo, provided by Nature magazine, shows newborn transgenic marmoset Kei, left, and Kou. Insets show their feet under ultraviolet light. Under UV light the skin on the soles of the feet glow green.

Scientists gave marmosets a gene that made their feet glow green, and one of the animals passed it along to its offspring - the first time that an added gene has been inherited by a monkey. It was a milestone, experts said, that should make it easier to produce animals with versions of human disease for medical research.

Animals that get added genetic material are called transgenic. While researchers have long created transgenic mice and other animals by giving them extra genetic material, monkeys offer a promising avenue for medical studies because of their similarity to humans.

Researchers have added genes to rhesus macaques before by injecting embryos, but the new work is the first documentation that such genes can be passed along to future generations of monkeys. That's important because it opens the door to creating colonies of transgenic monkeys by breeding, which would be far simpler than the cumbersome process of making each animal from scratch by injecting a gene into an embryo.

The researchers plan to use transgenic marmosets to study such conditions as Parkinson's disease and Lou Gehrig's disease, or ALS. The work is reported in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature by scientists at the Central Institute for Experimental Animals in Kawasaki, Japan, and elsewhere in that country.

source : www.thejakartapost.com

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