Genetics startup turns to CRISPR to resurrect the woolly mammoth

newatlas.com
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A new company called Colossal plans to revive the woolly mammoth and reintroduce the species to the Arctic. And it isn't meant to be just a tourist-trap Jurassic Park either – the aim is to restore a long-lost ecosystem to help fight climate change.
A new genetics company called Colossal has grand plans to revive the woolly mammoth and reintroduce the species to the Arctic tundra. And it isn't meant to be just a tourist-trap Jurassic Park either – the aim is to restore a long-lost ecosystem which could, according to the company, help fight climate change.

The discussion around "de-extinction" – or using genetic engineering to bring extinct species back from the dead – has shifted from science fiction to technically possible in recent years. Despite what the movies might say, dinosaurs are off the table due to a lack of surviving DNA, but more recently extinct animals, from which we still have tissue samples, could be viable.

The woolly mammoth is a prime candidate. Well-preserved carcasses are regularly pulled out of the permafrost, and they still have living close relatives that could act as surrogates to carry the clones to term.

Now, the world may be a step closer to that possibility. Tech entrepreneur Ben Lamm and geneticist George Church have founded a new company called Colossal with the specific aim of developing a method to revive the mammoth using CRISPR gene-editing technology. The company has launched with US$15 million in seed funding, which will be used to sponsor research in Church's lab at Harvard Medical School.

Colossal co-founders Ben Lamm and George Church Colossal

The creature they create wouldn't be a "pure" mammoth – instead, the scientists will set out to engineer an elephant-mammoth hybrid. An Asian elephant would be used as the base genome, since it and the mammoth share 99.6 percent of their genes. The remaining 0.4 percent would be edited using CRISPR to bestow…
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