These are old articles 99 to be exact (so this is covering the big historic adances within the field in the past), but the info is interesting to say the least, and it continues on with advances in genetics (or speculation of such)
Scientists Place Jellyfish Genes Into Monkeys - The New York Times
Scientists Place Jellyfish Genes Into Monkeys
Scientists in Oregon report today that they have installed jellyfish genes in monkey embryos, using a technique that might eventually be used to create monkeys with added human genes.
Such a technique would allow those genes to be studied for the development of treatments for human diseases.
But the scientists say they are acutely aware that their research raises a host of troubling questions about reproductive technology.
If scientists can add genes to monkey embryos, it should be possible to add genes to human embryos, raising the emotionally fraught issue of human genetic engineering.
''These are matters that need to be discussed,'' said Dr. Barry Zirkin, who leads the division of reproductive biology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health in Baltimore, who was not connected with the Oregon research.
What stands out, some experts said, is how simple the method is. If it is refined to be highly effective in monkeys, it could be just a short step to using it to add genes to human embryos. Some genes might correct diseases or prevent them -- like an AIDS resistance gene, or one that might make a person less susceptible to Alzheimer's disease. Adding such genes might be akin to vaccinating a child. The addition of other genes might be more problematic. Dr. Inder Verma, a molecular biologist at the Salk Institute in San Diego who also was not connected with the work, gave the example of a gene like one for the glutamate receptor protein in the brain, which may improve memory.
''Suppose you put in an extra glutamate receptor and turn it on before giving a test to a monkey,'' Dr. Verma said. He said it would be interesting to know whether the monkeys' memories improved.
What if it worked and then humans wanted that gene? ''If something can be done, people will do it,'' Dr. Verma replied, though he added that he was comforted by the thought that there would be very few people who could afford such genetic engineering, and even fewer who would want it.
The current study being published today in the journal Molecular Human Reproduction, is more of a demonstration of feasibility, experts said. To add genes to monkey embryos, Dr. Gerald Schatten of the Oregon Primate Research Center at Oregon Health Sciences University in Beaverton, and his colleagues began by mixing jellyfish genes with sperm cells from rhesus monkeys. The genes stuck naturally to the outside of the sperm cells.
Then the scientists tried to use those sperm to fertilize eggs, asking whether the added jellyfish genes became part of the developing embryos. The gene encodes instructions for a protein that gives jellyfish a green glow. If it got into the monkey embryos and functioned, the embryo cells would glow green under a fluorescent light.
In one set of experiments, the scientists fertilized about 20 monkey eggs in vitro, mixing sperm and eggs in a petri dish. With that method, which mimics natural fertilization, the sperm swims to the egg and discards its protein coat as it enters. The extra gene was discarded with the coat as the sperm penetrated the egg. Only the sperm's genetic material got in.
The scientists also fertilized 81 eggs by directly injecting them with the gene-containing sperm. Then, they report, the jellyfish genes entered the eggs with the sperm. The consequence was clear when the scientists shined a fluorescent light on the embryos. ''More than a third of the embryos fluoresced,'' Dr. Schatten said.
Using seven of the monkey embryos created by direct sperm injection into eggs, Dr. Schatten and his colleagues tried to create pregnancies and got a set of stillborn twins and one live male monkey.
The scientists have not found evidence that the gene was incorporated into any of the monkeys' cells. But, they and others say, they have no doubt that the method will work, because it was recently shown to work in mice.
Earlier this year, in the journal Science, Dr. Ryuzo Yanagimachi at the University of Hawaii and his colleagues reported that they had mixed the same jellyfish gene with mouse sperm, injected the sperm into mouse eggs and created pregnancies. They reported that 11 of the 57 mice that were born had the jellyfish gene: when they examined cells from the animals' tail tips under a fluorescent light, the cells glowed green.
Dr. Yanagimachi said that while he was disappointed that the first monkeys did not have the added gene, ''this is just a matter of time before it can be done.''
Monkeys, Dr. Schatten said, can be invaluable in studies of human disorders.
''When you think of their value as a disease model or for understanding cognition or mental disorders or all sorts of diseases and disorders that appear in people, this is a very small first step,'' he said.
But, he added, a darker side of the work is the questions it raises about a popular fertility treatment.
The sperm injection method is a standby in fertility clinics, where it is used 10,000 to 20,000 times a year in about 200 American clinics. Discovered by accident less than a decade ago, the method, called intracytoplasmic sperm injection, or ICSI, revolutionized the treatment of male infertility. It allowed men whose sperm do not move, men whose sperm cannot penetrate an egg, and men whose sperm are not even ejaculated, to become fathers.
But ICSI (pronounced ICK-see) puts whole sperm, along with whatever may be attached to them, into egg cells. Dr. Schatten noted that viruses can attach themselves to sperm and no amount of rinsing can get them off. With ICSI, these viruses would be injected directly into eggs where, his work shows, their genes could start to function. And while there is no proof so far that babies born from ICSI procedures have unusual diseases, the prospect has troubled some scientists.
''It's a significant concern,'' said Dr. Peter N. Schlegel, a specialist in male infertility at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University. But he noted that most of the monkey embryos did not take up the genes that Dr. Schatten attached to the sperm.
Dr. Paul Turek, a specialist in male infertility at the University of California in San Francisco, says he will add the new information from the monkey experiments when he is counseling patients who are considering ICSI. ''They can decide whether they want to go forward or not,'' he said.
But Dr. Turek added that while he would continue with ICSI for those who want it, he would not give a blanket recommendation to everything that becomes technologically possible just because there is a market for it.
''I fall back on the fact that I am an ethical religious man,'' he said. As such, he said, he continually questions where the boundaries lie.
''People think technology is forging way ahead of biology, ethics, and common sense,'' Dr. Turek went on. ''All of us think about this all the time. All of the clinicians wonder what we are doing.''
CNN.com - Health - Genetically modified monkey could be key to curing some diseases - January 11, 2001
Genetically modified monkey could be key to curing some diseases
(CNN) -- A genetically modified monkey could be the key to one day curing a number of human diseases, researchers said Thursday.
The baby rhesus monkey -- named ANDi, for "inserted DNA" spelled backwards -- carries in him an extra bit of DNA from a jellyfish. Although mice have been altered in this way for years, ANDi is the first primate to be similarly modified.
Researchers at the Oregon Regional Primate Research Center said their technique could eventually be used to insert a human disease gene into a monkey, creating a better way of studying diseases like Alzheimer's, diabetes and breast cancer. The center is part of the Oregon Health Sciences University.
"In order to eradicate these diseases we need to have the relevant disease models to perfect these innovative cures and make sure they are safe and optimized before testing them on patients," said Dr. Gerald Schatten, who led the research at the primate center.
Because monkeys are genetically closer to humans than mice, they could give scientists a better understanding of how diseases develop in people.
The research was described in Friday's issue of the journal Science.
Modifying a monkey
To create ANDi, Schatten and his team injected the jellyfish gene for green florescence into the unfertilized egg of a normal female rhesus monkey. The jellyfish DNA joined with the monkey DNA. The egg was then fertilized with sperm from a normal male monkey.
Three monkeys were successfully altered in this way, but only ANDi survived.
The jellyfish gene was used, Schatten said, because it is known to be harmless and because it is easily detectable.
ANDi appears normal so far - he does not glow the way a jellyfish does. But the two other monkeys who got the gene did exhibit florescence. Their hair and fingernails glowed green when exposed to ultraviolet light under a microscope.
Eventually, Schatten said, scientists hope to insert other types of harmless genetic markers that can be tracked with magnetic resonance or PET scans. If successful, doctors might be able to monitor the developmental events that lead to many diseases, he added.
Animal rights concerns
"Meddling with the building blocks of life is extremely dangerous," said Peter Wood, a spokesman for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. "It goes right to the core of the research philosophy, which is 'I can do with animals as I please. I can even change their physiology.'"
Wood also said he doubted the work would yield new discoveries to treat human diseases.
Animal rights activists were critical of the new research.
But Dr. John Strandberg, director of comparative medicine at the National Institutes of Health, disagreed. He said monkeys could prove to be very useful in studying human diseases.
"The genetically modified animals in the lab have been principally mice, which are good but far removed from humans. How relevant their results are to humans is questionable," he said. "The closer you can get to the human situation, the more accurate are the results you get."
Next step -- humans?
So now that scientists have put a jellyfish gene into a monkey, do they now want to insert a gene from a non-human animal into a human being?
No, said Schatten. "We don't support any extension or extrapolation of this work from laboratory animals to humans."
Several scientists and ethicists interviewed by CNN said they don't know of anyone who's interested in inserting animal genes into humans because it could be risky and has no known medical use.
But bioethicist Art Caplan at the University of Pennsylvania said even though no one's interested now, the work with ANDi is a "baby step to genetically engineering ourselves, but we still have a long way to go.
"The time for the public to discuss the ethics of genetic engineering is now, even though we're just at the start of the genetic trail," he added.
dam, that was a funny mistake, and an even funnier reaction from you guys. Apparently the joke is on me.