Mankind may be on the verge of reviving extinct species, including the woolly mammoth. Well, not actually the woolly mammoth, but its genetic cousin.
This is courtesy of a meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. George Church, the scientist leading the race for the woolly mammoth's return, announced on a report from BBC that they could produce a hybrid embryo in as easily as two years.
He explained that the goal is to use a gene-editing tool, CRISPR, to produce a hybrid elephat-mammoth called the mammophant. This means DNA from the woolly mammoth will be integrated with the Asian elephant.The resulting embryo, the scientists predict, may more or less have small ears, long hair, and cold-adapted blood -- all qualities of the woolly mammoth.
According to The Guardian, the effort has only gone up to making mammophant cells. However, they are now on the verge of creating embryos in the lab.
The scientists plan to use elephant skin cells to produce the embryo via cloning. According to the Guardian, hopefully, the nuclei of the "edited" cells will be placed into the original elephant egg, to be stimulated in order to develop embryos.
However, it's not all good news. Others raised ethical concerns about the move. While the "hybrid" may help preserve the already endangered Asian elephant, others are concerned about its reception in society.
Matthew Cobb from the University of Manchester said that these new mammophants may not get good reception with its original Asian elephant peers, which has to be an issue to be dealt with entirely.
The woolly mammoth has vanished around 4,000 years ago. They used to roam Asia, Africa, North America and Europe during the Ice Age. The ancient animal has become the target of a lot of de-extinction efforts. Church's method, the one that uses CRISPR, has been the most-successful so far.
Another issue raised is because there are no actual woolly mammoth DNA that can be harvested, it will be very unlikely that actual "woolly mammoths" from the past are created. Even if mammophant embryos are to be created soon, their growths are also not guaranteed as the current conditions of the planet may very well be deadly for them.
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