Tuesday, 12 March 2024 10:24

Scientists Are Getting Closer to Reviving the Woolly Mammoth

Woolly Mammoth Woolly Mammoth pixabay

In today's world, only a handful of animal species associated with prehistoric times remain on Earth. However, the de-extinction startup Colossal Biosciences claims to have discovered a way to reprogram elephant cells, potentially paving the way for the revival of long-lost mammals.


Challenges in mammoth resurrection

On the road to creating so-called "functional mammoths," scientists at Colossal face numerous challenges: making precise genetic modifications, nurturing edited cells into fully developed mammoths, and identifying suitable environments for these creatures to thrive. While the journey ahead is lengthy and uncertain, the startup has recently announced a minor breakthrough that could facilitate progress.

Reprogramming elephant cells into induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has proven more challenging than with other species, according to Eriona Hysolli, head of biological sciences at Colossal. Like with other species, scientists reprogrammed elephant cells by subjecting them to various chemical treatments and introducing transcription factors, proteins that activate specific genes to alter cellular functions. The entire process took two months, significantly longer than the 5-10 days for mouse iPSCs or three weeks for human iPSCs.

Utilizing iPSCs for environmental conservation

Hysolli expresses a desire to shorten the time required to generate elephant iPSCs and refine the process for larger-scale production. iPSCs could prove particularly valuable if Colossal's scientists can transform them into sperm and egg cells, a task already underway by Hysolli's team. With limited access to elephant eggs and sperm, one of the challenges facing the de-extinction project is obtaining sufficient genetic diversity to support a population of functional mammoths—developing them from too few individuals risks the detrimental effects of inbreeding. Creating sperm and egg cells in the lab should address this issue, as Church explains.

Read 145 times Last modified on Tuesday, 12 March 2024 10:29