OHSU scientists seek to advance the study of human disease by taking steps to clone identical monkeys through embryo splitting

Portland, Ore. -- Scientists at Oregon Health Sciences University announce they have replicated the naturally occuring birth of a non-human primate twin using a lab technique called embryo splitting. The method, which has produced a healthy, female monkey named Tetra shows promise for researchers hoping to safely and speedily move discoveries from the laboratory bench to the patient's bedside. The study was conducted by Anthony Chan, Ph.D., a staff scientist at OHSU's Oregon Regional Primate Research Center, and his colleagues in a lab coordinated by Gerald Schatten, Ph.D., professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and cell and developmental biology in the OHSU School of Medicine. The results of this research will be published in the Jan. 14 edition of the journal Science.

In the past, investigators have used identical mice as human disease models to help conquer disorders now cured. However, as research moves to more complex diseases like Alzheimer's, AIDS, and cancer, many scientists agree a model closer to humans is needed. In addition, mice are not always effective test subjects for human illness therapies due to the fact that some human diseases do not surface when genetically introduced into mice. For years, scientists have considered the use of monkeys to study these forms of illnesses. However, the lack of identical, non-human primate models has posed a hurdle to researchers - until now.

"This research is an encouraging step that could accelerate the work of thousands of scientists looking for cures to hundreds of diseases," said Schatten. "While many researchers agree that mice will continue to prove useful in the study of some illnesses, most admit another model for human disease is needed to bridge the gap between mice and sick people. We believe identical monkeys are the next logical step in finding these life-saving answers."

Schatten points to the Human Genome Project when explaining the benefits of this research. He and

Contact: Jim Newman
Oregon Health & Science University

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