Stephen: Genetics company sets goal of bringing back wooly mammoth

Published on September 14th, 2021 @ 5:34 PM


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A team of scientists and entrepreneurs announced Monday (September 13th) that they’ve started a company called Colossal with the goal of using genetic engineering to bring back the woolly mammoth, which went extinct some 10,000 years ago. The company has gotten $15 million in initial funding and will support research in Harvard Medical School biologist Dr. George Church’s lab and carry out experiments in their own labs in Boston and Dallas.

Colossal will use CRISPR technology to edit elephant DNA, adding genes for mammoth traits like dense hair and thick fat. They hope to produce embryos of the mammoth-like elephants in a few years, grow them in an artificial mammoth uterus lined with uterine tissue grown from stem cells, and ultimately create entire populations of them to be released  on the Siberian tundra, the mammoth’s former habitat. The New York Times reports other researchers are skeptical it will work, and if it does, they’ll face serious ethical questions, including: “Is it humane to produce an animal whose biology we know so little about? Who gets to decide whether they can be set loose, potentially to change the ecosystems of tundras in profound ways?”

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