Scientists have genetically engineered monkeys so they can exhibit behaviors similar to autism. Their goal is to test potential therapies on the animals in hopes that their resemblance to humans will yield more answers about the disorder. The scientists found that the monkeys showed “very similar behaviors related to human autism patients, including repetitive behaviors, increased anxiety and, most importantly, defects in social interactions,” said Zilong Qiu, a leader of the research at the Institute of Neuroscience at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai. The team is now imaging the brains of the monkeys to identify the deficiency in the brain circuits that is responsible for the autism-like behavior.
This appears to be the furthest along of several research efforts involving monkeys, usually marmosets or macaques, engineered with genes linked to autism. At the Institute of Neuroscience in China, other researchers are creating monkeys with genes linked to neuromotor and psychiatric disorders, said the director, Mu-Ming Poo. The overarching cause of autism is still unknown, and cases have been linked to about 100 mutations, some inherited and some developing spontaneously.
This article was very interesting to me because I never payed attention to how monkeys act and how hey truly resemble autism. This research can benefit so many people in such a positive way and I hope more research is done and an answer is found.