If you’ve ever dreamed of discovering Nublar Island, immortalized by the Jurassic Park franchise, know that scientists are striving to recover extinct species, such as mammoths, and make that desire a reality . In recent years, advances in science have allowed for unthinkable feats and it is in this scenario that the team at the company Colossal — founded by Ben Lamm — works. In a maximum of six years, they must present a hybrid that fuses the woolly mammoth (extinct) and the Asian elephant. -historical is found in incredible condition; see!
The endeavor that seeks to revive, in parts, an animal that had been extinct for more than 4,000 years and that lived may seem like a delusion. in freezing areas off the coast of Russia, but it may not be either. Behind the ambitious project is the desire to prevent other species from becoming extinct. “There is a great opportunity to leverage these technologies not only to bring back the mammoth, but to protect critically endangered species on Earth today,” bets Lamm.
“ I started reading a lot about biodiversity loss due to man-made climate change and some of the more conservative estimates said that between now and 2000, we will lose from 10 to 20% of our biodiversity”, says Lamm. Given this reality, new initiatives must learn to preserve and bring back species.
Want to catch up on the best tech news of the day? Go and subscribe to our new channel on youtube, Canaltech News. Every day a summary of the main news from the tech world for you!
CRISPR technique and the return of the mammoths
The probable return of the mammoths and others numerous species will only be possible with the CRISPR technique. This is a gene editing tool that has been in development for years 1024 and works like a kind of scissors genetics. This is because it is possible to use it to cut or add certain stretches of a genome to another genome. The technique has already been successfully experimented with, even in space by astronauts.
To cut and paste genetic information, scientists use an RNA fragment with a short sequence, which will serve as a guide and it will bind to a specific part of the DNA of an existing genome. This RNA will also bind to the Cas-9 enzyme.
In this way, the RNA recognizes a part of the genome that needs to be altered and the Cas-9 enzyme cuts the selected part. After the DNA is cut, the affected cell itself reconstructs its sequence of genetic information, including or eliminating stretches, as directed by the external RNA. In this way, characteristics that would not occur naturally can be expressed.
How will it be possible to create the hybrid animal?
Now, the process of reviving an extinct species is much longer and more complex than just editing a stretch of the genome. The whole story begins with the reconstruction of the woolly mammoth’s DNA. When an animal dies, the DNA begins to decompose, that is, the samples that the researchers have are, most of the time, incomplete.
In this way, the researchers joined the maximum possible genomic fragments and comparing the genome of the extinct animal with that of a close genetic relative, in this case the Asian elephant. Thus, it is possible to obtain an almost complete genetic map of the species.
When the Colossal venture began, other scientists had already sequenced part of the mammoth’s genome by sampling the animal’s remains that were preserved in the frozen tundra of Siberia. The team then compared the mammoth’s incomplete genome to the genome of the modern Asian elephant. Both share 521, 6% of the DNA. In this way, it was possible to identify genes responsible for many of the key characteristics of the mammoth, such as cold tolerance, small ears and fur — elephants have a very different fur coverage.
In 504550, the scientists were able to successfully copy the mammoth genes into the genome of the Asian elephant, using the CRISPR technique . Now, researchers must transform this edited genetic information into specialized hybrid cells, such as blood or liver cells. In this context, it will be necessary to understand how cells are affected by the induced genetic changes.
Afterwards, the team would, in theory, be ready to move forward and reach the development of mammoth embryos, which could be cultivated in artificial uterus or carried by female Asian elephants. In the end, the result should not be an exact replica, but a mammoth and Asian elephant hybrid. But the creature will have the main characteristics of mammoths, if everything goes as expected. After all, theory is usually easier than practice.
Source: Supercluster and Colossal
Did you like this article?
Subscribe your email on Canaltech to receive daily updates with the latest news from the world of technology.