backtop


Print 101 comment(s) - last by FaceMaster.. on Feb 9 at 3:41 PM


Scientists have cloned a Pyrenean ibex, an extinct genetically distinct subspecies of the Spanish ibex, shown here. The ibex, known for its curved horns went extinct in 2000. Scientists resurrected it with a skin sample, though it was born with a lung defect and soon died.  (Source: Jose Luis GOMEZ de FRANCISCO/naturepl.com)
New cloning work could clear the way for resurrection of many recently extinct beasts

In the realm of commercial cloning, trickled-down technology from this cutting edge field of research has allowed firms to offer pet cloning services.  And in the realm of research, tremendous advances continue as scientists are hatching plans to resurrect extinct beasts.  Scientists have almost finished mapping the Woolly Mammoth genome, and have already injected DNA from an extinct species into a mouse.

Now arguably the greatest landmark event for the field of cloning has occurred.  Scientists have for the first time cloned an extinct animal, the Pyrenean ibex, a form of wild mountain goat.  The really spectacular thing about this cloning effort is that it was done using only DNA from skin samples. 

Technically classed as a genetically distinct subspecies of the Spanish ibex, the Pyrenean ibex, or bucardo as it is called by the locals, used to roam the mountainous hillside of northern Spain.  Known for its distinct horns, the animal was a popular target for hunters, and by the 19th century only 100 were left.  The species was not declared protected until 1973, at which time there were around 30 animals.  In 2000, the last known member of this critically endangered species was found dead on a hillside.  Researchers at the time decided to wisely preserve skin samples in liquid nitrogen.

The well-preserved skin samples proved a fruitful source for DNA.  Replicating this DNA using common genomic techniques, the researchers injected it into goat eggs, replacing the goat DNA.

While a great success, the effort also showcased the difficult road ahead for producing viable clones.  While born alive, the newborn ibex kid had defects in its lungs, similar to those found in many cloned sheep, and they proved fatal.  However, as some sheep clones have lived relatively normal lifespans, the success raises the hope of a more permanent resurrection.

Dr Jose Folch, from the Centre of Food Technology and Research of Aragon helped lead the research.  He states, "The delivered kid was genetically identical to the bucardo. In species such as bucardo, cloning is the only possibility to avoid its complete disappearance."

Professor Robert Miller, director the Medical Research Council's Reproductive Sciences Unit at Edinburgh University who heads a northern white rhino cloning effort funded by the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland cheered the news.  He states, "I think this is an exciting advance as it does show the potential of being able to regenerate extinct species. Clearly there is some way to go before it can be used effectively, but the advances in this field are such that we will see more and more solutions to the problems faced."

The race is now on to make sure that critically endangered species' tissues are preserved for future cloning efforts.  Britain's Zoological Society of London and America's Natural History Museum have teamed up in a project called Frozen Ark.  They are in the process of storing samples from thousands of species.

While cloning a dinosaur is highly improbable due to DNA's chemical tendency to rapidly break apart to the point where it cannot be sequenced, this new breakthrough paves the way for cloning of both endangered species, and extinct species with fully sequenced genomes, such as Neanderthals or, likely soon, the Woolly Mammoth.  However, this new work also highlights the extreme challenge ahead in trying to establish a sustainable population of a cloned animal, or even clones that live to reach adulthood.



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

RE: Why lungs defective?
By masher2 (blog) on 2/2/2009 10:42:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Then the whole world can hopefully enjoy meat without the immense environmental impact of grazing cattle
Yet another example of environmental idiocy, eh? By blocking the nascent nuclear power industry, they essentially doubled world carbon emissions over the last 30 years. Now, they're doing their best to block bioengineering, the one advance that has more potential to reduce human impact on the planet than any other.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Myg on 2/3/2009 7:00:35 AM , Rating: 2
"Now, they're doing their best to block bioengineering, the one advance that has more potential to reduce human impact on the planet than any other"

Did you just say "reduce"?

So, by forcefully altering the natural balance that has come about after countless years of adaptation, we can reduce our impact?

Masher; did you even think before you wrote that?


RE: Why lungs defective?
By masher2 (blog) on 2/3/2009 10:13:19 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
Did you just say "reduce"?
Yes, quite clearly. A new variant of corn with higher yields could dramatically reduce the amount of cultivated land needed. It could reduce the amount of water, (fossil-fuel based) fertilizer or pesticides needed as well.

Currently, meat farming alone accounts for more pollution and emissions than does the entire transportation sector-- cars, trucks, buses, planes and trains all combined. Biotech has the ability to eliminate that entirely.

quote:
by forcefully altering the natural balance
Ah, the myth of the "delicate balance of nature" arises again. Nature is always changing. And introducing a new variant of corn isn't going to lead to any more disruption than a new breed of dog or goldfish would do -- something we've done through forced breeding countless times already.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Myg on 2/3/2009 10:34:23 AM , Rating: 1
Indeed, but we didn't create nature; so we don't direct its evolution/direction. Nor have the knowledge/understanding to fiddle with such things beyond its normal working parameters (mixing viable/breedable creatures).

Bioengineering is a step too far, its going beyond the barriers placed down by nature in the first place (probably for its own protection/balance ;-) ). It can only lead to huge short term gains and catastrophic long term situations.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By masher2 (blog) on 2/3/2009 11:08:37 AM , Rating: 5
quote:
Nor have the knowledge/understanding to fiddle with such things
We didn't have the knowledge to "fiddle with" electricity in the 1600s, or steam engines in the 1700s, or fossil fuels in the 1800s, or even computers a scant 50 years ago. We learned as we went along...and as a result, our lives are immeasureably more pleasant, comfortable, and civilized than ever before in history.

Now, it seems a growing segment of our population is not only too ignorant and fearful to make new advances, but they actually want to roll back the ones we've already made. One can only hope this pernicious, short-sited philosophy dies out before it does more harm than it has.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By mead drinker on 2/5/2009 2:43:26 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Now, it seems a growing segment of our population is not only too ignorant and fearful to make new advances, but they actually want to roll back the ones we've already made. One can only hope this pernicious, short-sited philosophy dies out before it does more harm than it has.

Masher, this philosophy is not new. One only has to cite Sagan's discourse at the library of Alexandria to hear the same prophetic words, and witness the sheer absurdity that these groups encompass. The tempering of technological advancement and human complacency is itself a question founded in existentialism. The only thing that has changed is the outlet that these people are attempting to "preserve," most recent the environment. The good thing is that progress still continues today despite the machinations of these ignorant people. The sad thing is without the avarice of corporations, government, and empires none would be made.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Myg on 2/6/2009 7:46:06 AM , Rating: 2
Bio-engineering is like trying to hex edit compiled code to force it to adapt to your needs, without having the source code.

You may get a function working in a way you want for a while, but it may be impossible to predict how that change will carry over to the rest of the program as it pans itself out in time.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Myg on 2/6/2009 7:46:14 AM , Rating: 2
Bio-engineering is like trying to hex edit compiled code to force it to adapt to your needs, without having the source code.

You may get a function working in a way you want for a while, but it may be impossible to predict how that change will carry over to the rest of the program as it pans itself out in time.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Spivonious on 2/6/2009 11:08:57 AM , Rating: 1
Exactly, hasn't anyone else read Jurassic Park? No one on the team thought that the frog DNA would cause problems, after all the dinosaurs were perfectly healthy females at birth.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By Ictor on 2/6/2009 2:01:05 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
One can only hope this pernicious, short-sited philosophy dies out before it does more harm than it has.


How about a long-sited philosophy. Look at the extreme version of biotech. In the extreme version, genes of many unrelated species (incl. human) are inserted into the dna of, for instance, a bacteria. If such a lifeform is created, with the ability to reproduce itself and on top of that escapes into the enviroment. Can you predict what the outcome will be? Will it be a "new" lifeform taking it's place in the eternal battle for the fittest or will it be a biological disaster.

My guess is the last option. A long-sited philosophy says, that when the extreme version of a technology is a deadly disaster, than a small dose of that same technology in the long run and widespread use won't be any better.

Biotech will someday leave the minds of people as the solution for mankinds problems because reason says it will.


RE: Why lungs defective?
By William Gaatjes on 2/3/2009 3:52:59 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Currently, meat farming alone accounts for more pollution and emissions than does the entire transportation sector-- cars, trucks, buses, planes and trains all combined. Biotech has the ability to eliminate that entirely.


I personally would love to see a bio-technology that allowed us to build steaks or any other kind of meat that tastes the same and has the same texture as for example an used grown muscle. That would make the meat farming no longer necessary and be much more efficiƫnt and reduce the pollutions and emissions. Instead of growing an entire animal we would just grow steakes.

For the vegeterians among us a reason to cheer because they will be able to eat meat too. But since the animals in meat farming are used for almost 100% for various industries, we have to use biotech to provide substitutions for those industries as well. But that is all details. And no, we would be just replacing jobs and not killing jobs.


"I mean, if you wanna break down someone's door, why don't you start with AT&T, for God sakes? They make your amazing phone unusable as a phone!" -- Jon Stewart on Apple and the iPhone














botimage
Copyright 2014 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki