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Will prehistoric woolly mammoths roam earth again?

Last Updated: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 13:32

London: Sir Ian Wilmut - the pioneering scientist whose team unveiled Dolly as the world`s first cloned mammal in 1996 - has outlined how to help bring extinct woolly mammoths back to life.

The procedure, which echoed of techno-thriller `Jurassic Park` - was spelled out by Edinburgh-based stem-cell scientist Wilmut.

Wilmut said in an article that it is unlikely that the extinct mammal could be cloned in the same way as Dolly, as much more modern techniques are needed to convert tissue cells into stem cells to achieve the feat.

He told the Guardian that scores of healthy mammoth cells and hundreds or thousands of eggs from a closely related species like the Asian elephants are needed.

Another problem that he outlined is that mammoth cells must survive with their DNA intact. However, in practice, DNA gets degenerate quickly at the temperature of melting snow and ice, when most remains are found.

He added that there is a danger of elephants becoming extinct, which is why it is not appropriate to try to obtain 500 eggs from them.

However, he said if good-quality cells could be extracted from mammoth remains they could be reprogrammed into stem cells using modern procedures.

Wilmut said that these could then be turned into other kinds of cell, including sperm and eggs.

He explained that if the cells were from a female, this could provide an alternative source of eggs for use in research, and perhaps in breeding, including the cloning of mammoths.

Wilmut added that from a male they could get sperm, which then scientists could use to fertilise eggs to produce a new mammoth embryo.

The findings have been published in academic journalism website, The Conversation.


First Published: Wednesday, July 31, 2013 - 13:32

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