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Scientists Surprised After Gene Editing Experiment Turns Benign Hamsters Into Extremely Aggressive: Study



The study found that aggressive behavior included stalking, biting, and pincers. (Remove splash/actor)

A team of neuroscience researchers has been left “incredibly shocked” after a gene-editing experiment in hamsters that turned a tame creature into an “aggressive” monster. in statement From Georgia State University (GSU) in the US, researchers highlight a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

According to the press release, scientists used Syrian hamsters and CRISPR-Cas9 – a revolutionary technology that allows to turn genes on or off in cells. This technique successfully disables receptors for vasopressin – a hormone associated with increased aggressiveness.

The research team believes that genetic modification will make hamsters more social and peaceful. Surprisingly, however, the tame animal became even more aggressive. “We were really surprised by the results,” Elliott Albers, one of the study’s lead investigators, said in a statement, adding, “We hoped that if we removed vasopressin activity, we would reduce aggression and socialization. But the opposite happened.”

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The researchers explained that hamsters without receptors exhibited a “significantly higher level” of social communication behavior than their counterparts with receptors intact. Furthermore, the team noted that the typical gender difference observed in aggressiveness was eliminated because the male and female hamsters displayed “high levels of aggression” towards other individuals of the same sex. The study found that behaviors included stalking, biting and pinning.

This is a remarkable result, Albers said in a statement. “Although we know that vasopressin enhances social behavior by acting in a number of brain regions, it is possible that the global effect of the Avpr1a receptor is inhibitory.”

Furthermore, the lead researcher added, the “illogical findings” suggest that scientists “do not understand this system.” Mr Albers went on to say that developing genetically modified hamsters was “not easy”.

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Now, say the scientists, a better understanding of the role of vasopressin in social behavior is critical to helping scientists identify new treatment strategies for mental disorders in humans, ranging from autism to depression.

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