Ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied tree shrew aids health tests

China Daily (Canada) - - NEWS CAPSULE -

Chi­nese sci­en­tists have de­vel­oped meth­ods to make the world's first ge­net­i­cally mod­i­fied tree shrews, paving the way for the pro­duc­tion of “knockout” tree shrews for ex­per­i­men­tal use, ac­cord­ing to re­search pa­per pub­lished by Cell Re­search, a monthly peer-re­viewed sci­en­tific jour­nal by the Na­ture Pub­lish­ing Group.

The tree shrew, a small, fluffy mam­mal that looks like a squir­rel, is an ideal lab­o­ra­tory an­i­mal be­cause it shares a higher de­gree of sim­i­lar­i­ties with hu­mans than rats do. How­ever, the species’ timid­ity has pre­vented it from con­tribut­ing to stud­ies on hu­man health.

“The tree shrew has a ner­vous sys­tem and an im­mune sys­tem that share many more sim­i­lar­i­ties with pri­mates, mak­ing it suit­able for med­i­cal re­search on neu­ro­log­i­cal dis­eases and in­fec­tious dis­eases,” said Zheng Ping, a re­searcher at the Kun­ming In­sti­tute of Zool­ogy.

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