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Woolly Mammoth  (Source: blog.devonanddorsetcottages.co.uk)
A researcher from Japan plans to use a new cloning technique to make this happen

If you thought "Jurassic Park" and the large, reconstructed skeletons seen in museums were the closest we'd ever come to seeing extinct creatures come to life, you might want to think again.  

Akira Iritani, a professor at Kyoto University in Japan, is looking to resurrect the woolly mammoth now that a new cloning technique can make it possible. Not only is it possible, but the woolly mammoth could also be reborn as soon as four years from now.  

The woolly mammoth, which is an extinct species of mammoth that died out 5,000 years ago, has been difficult to clone up until now because nuclei in cells found in the muscle tissue and skin of woolly mammoth's located in the Siberian permafrost were severely damaged by the cold. Many attempts in the 1990's failed because of this. 

In 2008, Dr. Teruhiko Wakayama from the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology developed a cloning technique that allowed him to use the cells of a mouse that was frozen for 16 years to clone a new mouse. This technique has paved the way for new clone-related opportunities, and has inspired Iritani to resurrect the woolly mammoth.  

Iritani plans to use this technique to pinpoint healthy nuclei within mammoth cells in order to extract and use them for cloning.  

"Now that the technical problems have been overcome, all we need is a good sample of soft tissue from a frozen mammoth," said Iritani. 

To obtain the nuclei, Iritani will travel to Siberia this summer to find samples of mammoth tissue or skin within the permafrost. If he is unable to locate these samples, he plans to ask Russian scientists for samples that they have recovered. 

Once Iritani obtains the nuclei, he will insert it into an African elephant's egg cells. The African elephant will be the surrogate mother of the new mammoth. 

"The success rate in the cloning of cattle was poor until recently, but now stands at about 30 percent," said Iritani. "I think we have a reasonable chance of success and a healthy mammoth could be born in four or five years."

Iritani said the process would take at least four years because it will be about two years before the elephant can be impregnated, and then a 600-day gestation period is needed. 



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RE: What percentage?
By melgross on 1/16/2011 1:36:01 PM , Rating: 2
This is the big question that the article doesn't address. I haven't checked the links to see if there's more detail, but unless there is, there's a problem with this idea.

We aren't just made up of DNA from the cell's nucleous. We're also made up of DNA from the mitochondria. I didn't see a mention of that. If they don't have that as well, then it will be some sort of hybrid. Even if they do have that, there could still be developmental problems given that an elephant, no matter how close to the species they want to clone it is, will have a difference in the nutrient balance to the embryo, resulting in the possibility of an incorrect developmental cycle in the womb. It may not amount to much, but it could effect expression of some mammoth genes.

This is very complex, and an eager researcher, no matter how smart, can get caught up in what they can do, rather than the details of the results. I used to see this problem in applications for research grants when I was at the American Museum of Natural History here in NYC. Sometimes I needed to send it back for a re-write.


RE: What percentage?
By DNAgent on 1/16/2011 10:42:48 PM , Rating: 2
Beyond the presence of mitochondrial DNA is the question of methylation and other regulatory mechanisms that are vital to proper function. Even if sufficiently intact (i.e. not fragmented) DNA is obtained, the methylation/ethylation of the recovered mammoth material may be altered so that the proper genes will not be active/inactive to facilitate gestation.

Not to mention the plethora of chaperone proteins, etc. that may be missing or damaged.


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