Scientists Make Huge Leap in Raising Woolly Mammoths From the Dead

Evarado Alatorre
Marcha 13, 2019

Japanese scientists have awakened the cells of an extinct woolly mammoth in an experiment that could one day bring the prehistoric beasts back to life.

This photo provided by Kindai University shows the remains of the mammoth calf Yuka that researchers used to extract nuclei from muscle cells.

The researchers extracted the nucleus of each cell that carries biological hereditary information, and those nuclei were injected into mouse oocytes.

The mammoth, Yuka, was discovered in August 2010 frozen in Siberian permafrost for 28,000 years, according to the study published in Scientific Reports.

Researchers inserted 24 cell nuclei into the eggs of mice, and found that proteins that form chromosomes gathered around the cell nuclei in 21 of these eggs.

"This suggests that, despite the years that have passed, cell activity can still happen and parts of it can be recreated", Kei Miyamoto, a member of the team that conducted the work, said in an interview with AFP.

This time, they found Yuka's remains had not been contaminated, allowing them to collect 88 nucleus-like structures from the animal.

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"Until now many studies have focused on analyzing fossil DNA and not whether they still function", Miyamoto added.

The worldwide research team led by Akira Iritani, a professor emeritus at Kindai University here, published the research results on March 11 in the British magazine Scientific Reports.

They also found possible signs of fix to damaged mammoth DNA.

Despite the successes, the scientists did not observe the further cell division necessary to create a viable egg, "possibly due to the extensive DNA damage in the transferred nuclei".

Just don't expect any Jurassic Parks anytime soon, as none of the implanted cells produced cell division, which would be a key process needed for any hope of cloning the giant creatures.

"We need new technology, we want to try various approaches", Miyamoto said.

The study was carried out by a team from Kindai University in Osaka, reports Nikkei Asian Review.

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