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Woolly mammoths could soon be resurrected from extinction following major breakthrough

Woolly mammoths could soon be resurrected from extinction following major breakthrough

There has been a ground-breaking discovery

Scientists have made a huge breakthrough that could potentially resurrect the ever beloved, woolly mammoth.

According to the researchers from Colossal Biosciences, it could be achieved as soon as 2028.

Mammoths could be roaming the Earth again soon.
Getty Stock Photo

According to the co-founder and lead geneticist of Colossal, Dr. George Church, their discovery could 'open the door' to bringing the mammoth back from extinction.

Speaking to the MailOnline, he said: "It's not a huge extrapolation to think that we'll be able to synthesise on a large scale in the future".

To explain how it'd work, we have to go back to 2006.

Back then, scientist Shinya Yamanaka discovered that you could use a chemical cocktail to turn adult cells into stem cells.

Stem cells have the unique ability to grow into any other type of cell, and this has been achieved in humans, rabbits and even white rhinos, but never with an elephant.

Scientists at Colossal Biosciences have now managed to create elephant 'pluripotent' stem cells, which can grow into any cell in the body.

The mammoth has been extinct for the last 4000+ years.
Getty Stock Photo

With these new stem cells, scientists plan to modify the cells with genes obtained from a frozen woolly mammoth corpse.

In theory, they would grow into an egg that would be fertilised and grown in an artificial womb.

Dr Church further explained: "What we're doing is making a particular hybrid that will both enrich the Asian elephant and bring back the diversity of the mammoth."

The organisation hopes that the hybrid will result in elephants thriving and helping to repair damaged Arctic ecosystems.

As Asian elephants are currently 'stuck' in areas of high population density, problems are brought on for both them and humans.

But by engineering a breed of elephant and mammoth, they could thrive in freezing conditions away from humans with temperatures that woolly mammoths used to explore.

Church continued: "We hope to use the diversity that comes from their not-so-long-ago ancient relatives to help them cope with new environments that might be needed for their thriving."

Stem cells could be the answer to bringing the mammoths back.
Getty Stock Photo

According to Eriona Hysoll, head of biological sciences at Colossal Biosciences, it has taken years to produce these cells from elephants.

Mammals have a set of genes called TP 53 retrogenes that help to suppress tumour growth, and while humans only have two copies, an elephant has near 40.

Using a number of processes to repress the action of these genes, they managed to produce the pluripotent stem cells.

Different animals have the gene in different amounts, so it might help us find out why some species are less or more prone to cancer.

"It could help us understand why mice almost always die of cancer while elephants almost never do," Church explained.

He also explained that scientists can see if the genetic changes of the stem cells have been successful after a couple of days, instead of the normal elephant gestation period of two years.

Another positive is that these stem cells are basically immortal, so scientists can conduct thousands of tests at the same time in a small amount of time.

Next for the team is to continue testing cold resistant genes in elephants and working towards growing eggs and sperm cells.

Featured Image Credit: PA / Getty Stock Images

Topics: Animals, Science, World News