It seems like the type of story that would serve as the prologue to a new Jurassic Park—the woolly mammoth, that huge relative of the elephant that disappeared from the earth around 10,000 years ago, could be brought back to life after scientists awakened cells belonging to the long-extinct creature.
Researchers from Japan and Russia are hopeful that this will be the case after a series of experiments were performed using the remains of a well-preserved mammoth carcass named Yuka that dates back 28,000 years.
Cells from the mammoth have begun to show “signs of biological activity” after they were implanted in mouse cells.
How it happened
Eight years ago, an impressively well-preserved woolly mammoth was dug out of the Siberian permafrost. With the species having met its extinction some 4,000 years ago, finding such a relatively pristine specimen was an astounding feat — particularly since this one was 28,000 years old.
The process to establish whether the mammoth DNA could still function wasn’t easy. According to IFL Science, researchers began by taking bone marrow and muscle tissue samples from the animal’s leg. These were then analyzed for the presence of undamaged nucleus-like structures, which, once found, were extracted.
Once these nuclei cells were combined with mouse oocytes, mouse proteins were added, revealing some of the mammoth cells to be perfectly capable of nuclear reconstitution. This, finally, suggested that even 28,000-year-old mammoth remains could harbor active nuclei.
What will it lead to
While Kei Miyamoto, who is a study author from the Department of Genetic Engineering at Kindai University admits that “we are very far from recreating a mammoth,” plenty of researchers attempting to use gene editing to do so are confident that that achievement is around the corner. Recent efforts, using the controversial CRISPR gene editing tool, are arguably the most promising, of late.
Harvard and MIT geneticist George Church, who co-founded CRISPR, has been leading the Harvard Woolly Mammoth Revival team for years now in an attempt to introduce the animal’s genres into the Asian elephant — for environmental purposes related to climate change.
Source – allthatsinteresting.com, nature.com, themindunleashed.com