Crazy: Scientists decide to use DNA to "resurrect" mammoths within 6 years

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Recently, CNN reported that American experts plan to "resurrection" the mammoth and plan to breed the first batch of "elephant cubs" within 4-6 years.

This project, which is close to science fiction, is led by Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School. Currently, the project has received an investment of US$15 million.



▲Professor George Church (Photo source: Professor Church’s personal official website)


Mammoths were once giant beasts that dominated the ice sheets, but they declined due to climate change 10,000 years ago and eventually became extinct. In recent years, many mammoth remains have been excavated from beneath the Siberian ice sheets. Cold temperatures and icy permafrost inhibited microbial activity and preserved mammoth DNA.

Low temperature creates an excellent environment to inhibit the degradation of DNA, and also arouses Professor Church's keen interest. In 2013, Professor Church publicly discussed the idea of "resurrecting the mammoth" for the first time. This year, a start-up company called Colossal emerged and received US$15 million in seed round financing. It plans to bring "Mammoth" to life within 6 years.

Currently, Colossal's plan is to use CRISPR technology to gene-edit Asian elephant embryos and insert nearly 50 mammoth genes related to cold-resistant traits. Previously, the team had found about 60 genes closely related to mammoth traits, which gave mammoths key features such as thick hair and thick layers of subcutaneous fat. According to Professor Church, this kind of operation is enough to make Asian elephants living in Southeast Asia and southern subtropical areas equipped with cold tolerance and survive on the Siberian ice sheet.



Mammoth recovery map


After obtaining embryos containing mammoth genes, the ideal hybrid elephant is born through an artificial womb. According to Colossal's timetable, the hybrid fetus will be born in 6 years, and it will take at least 10 years to grow into an adult.

From the time it was first proposed to today, the idea of "resurrecting the mammoth" has always been full of controversy. According to Professor Church, their implementation of this project has profound significance: mitigating the trend of Arctic warming and protecting endangered species.

If elephants can survive in Siberia in the future, their transformation of the ecosystem can effectively reverse the melting of permafrost and thereby control warming. At the same time, another significance of this technology is to help species at risk of extinction expand their habitats, improve genetic diversity, and save endangered Asian elephants.

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