Lab-made wooly mammoth embryos are only two years away

Brittany A. Roston - Feb 20, 2017
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Lab-made wooly mammoth embryos are only two years away

A couple years ago, it was revealed that scientists had sequenced the wooly mammoth’s genome, and now researchers have revealed that a ‘de-extinction’ of the beast may be only two years away. Scientists aim to create a sort of hybrid wooly mammoth that will be part Asian elephant, the by-product of which will be a so-called ‘mammophant’ with many of the same characteristics of long-extinct wooly mammoths.

The news of this ‘de-extinction’ work first dates back to 2015, when Harvard scientists revealed plans to cross the mammoth with an elephant to resurrect the creature via a hybrid. Nearly two years have passed since that news first arrived, and now those researchers are back with an update, saying there may only be two years remaining before they’re successful in their mission.

The news comes from Professor George Church, the project’s leading scientist, who said the resulting hybrid will likely have the same subcutaneous fat, cold-adapted blood, and long hair stereotypical to mammoths, as well as small ears, an atypical thing for an elephant. These traits will be deliberately put into the elephant’s DNA using CRISPR.

Work has already been done at the cellular level for achieving this goal, and now scientists plan to begin creating embryos of this hybrid creature. An embryo will eventually be grown using an artificial womb, in which case the timeframe in which we will see a hybrid creature reach full term may be nearer 2030, given the technology advancements still needed.

SOURCE: The Guardian


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