A research team of Kyoto University's Primate Research Institute announced it had discovered the world's first Japanese macaque monkey suffering from progeria, a disease that causes rapid, early aging. Until this discovery, humans were the only primates considered to suffer from this disease.
The research team, including Prof. Masahiko Takada, will try to determine how the monkey developed the disease and hopes to use its findings in a study of how we age. A thesis on the world's first progeria monkey has been carried in a US science journal.
Japanese macaque monkeys are usually considered old at about 25 and live to around 40, according to the research institute.
However, the face of the female monkey, which was born in May 2010, has become wrinkled despite being only 8 months old. The monkey also suffered from cataracts when she was 10 months old - an ailment usually seen in monkeys 20 years old and older. Cerebral atrophy was confirmed when she was 16 months old, and she showed signs of developing diabetes when she was 2. Such symptoms are similar to those of humans suffering from progeria.
Six genes that cause the illness have been confirmed in humans. However, no abnormalities were found in the monkey's six genes, nor in any of the 16 genes related to aging. In July 2013, the monkey died of a digestive disease unrelated to progeria when she was 3 years and 2 months old. The monkey's body tissue and cells have been frozen.
The research institute plans to create induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells and try to determine which genes caused the monkey's progeria.