During a ground-breaking experiment, cells taken from a woolly mammoth that passed away approximately 28,000 years ago have started showing “signs of life.”
2011 saw the excavation of the young woolly mammoth that had been preserved in the permafrost of Siberia. The discovery of such a substantially unharmed specimen was noteworthy because the species had been extinct for around 4,000 years; this was especially true given the specimen’s 28,000 years.
Since then, researchers have been keen to learn whether or whether the biological contents of the uncovered mammoth are still alive, despite the passage of thousands of years since they were first discovered. Now, researchers at Kindai University in Japan have found that its DNA is mainly intact. It appears they are well on reintroducing this enormous prehistoric mammal into the living world.
It might look somewhat like this (at first) if they are successful.
In any case, everything-boils down to the fact that researchers at the university have successfully removed the nuclei from the mammoth’s cells and transplanted them into the oocytes of mice. Oocytes are cells that are found in the ovaries of female mammals and are capable of forming an egg cell through genetic division.
After then, the cells extracted from the material that was 28,000 years old started to display “evidence of biological processes.”
A time-lapse of mouse oocyte cells injected with mammoth nuclei. Kindai University/Scientific Reports
The study’s author, Kei Miyamoto, who works in the Department of Genetic Engineering at Kindai University, stated that “this shows that, despite the years that have passed, cell activity can still exist and parts of it can be replicated.”
Five of the cells even produced results that were entirely unexpected and very promising, specific indicators of activity that generally only occur right before cell division. This was the case for all five of the cells.
It was not easy to determine whether or not the DNA from the mammoth could still operate. The researchers started their investigation by collecting bone marrow and muscle tissue samples from the animal’s leg. After that, these were examined to see whether or not they had intact nucleus-like structures, which, once identified, were removed.
After combining these nuclei cells with mouse oocytes and adding mouse proteins, it was discovered that some mammoth cells were fully capable of nuclear reconstitution. This ultimately proved that even remnants of mammoths that were 28,000 years old may still contain functioning nuclei.
That is to say, something like the possibility of resurrecting a specimen as this one exists.
Royal Victoria Museum, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, 2018
While Miyamoto is the first to concede that “we are very far from reproducing a mammoth,” many researchers seeking to do it through gene editing are optimistic that they will soon be successful. The most recent efforts, which use the contentious CRISPR gene editing technique, are currently being hailed as the most promising in recent memory.
But is it necessary for us to bring back to life a species that became extinct a very long ago?
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