To help save living creatures, using genes from extinct animals, Scientists from the Harvard University shall be soon with the Hybrid Elephant Mammoth without Tusks or reduced size Tusks. A new hybrid elephant-mammoth with no tusks could be in the pipeline for scientists, in a bid to stop poaching for ivory.

Creating a hybrid without, or with reduced-sized, tusks will also mean there is no incentive for poachers to kill the animal.

The team worked with the extinct mammoth's DNA, preserved in the frozen temperatures of the Arctic, to locate 44 genes that made mammoths more able to cope in the cold - in stark contrast to the elephant which prefers a warmer climate.

If the elephant can be made more able to withstand a harsh environment, it could move its habitat further north.

Scientists are hoping an artificial womb will be the key to growing a mammoth-elephant hybrid in a lab and potentially saving the elephant from extinction.

A team of researchers at Harvard University, led by renowned geneticist Professor George Church, say they have isolated and "resurrected" 44 genes from the woolly mammoth. Speaking at the Fourth International Vatican Conference in Vatican City, Church said researchers could use gene editing to create hybrid elephants capable of resisting cold temperatures.

"My goal is not to bring back the mammoth, it's to bring back mammoth genes and show that they work and that we have already done it," he said.

But to grow an elephant embryo without harming adult female elephants, Church says his team needs to grow the embryo "in vitro in the lab." The hope is to create a "vascularised decidua" from stem cells -- uterine lining that has its own vascular structure of blood vessels to support life.

"We have one paper coming out which is a general method where we can turn stem cells into any tissue you want, and in this case we want decidua, which is the tissue into which the embryos implant, and we're trying to make a vacularized version of that."

While growing an entire mammoth-elephant in a lab might be a while off, Church said the structure "would be a good environment for initially a mouse embryo and then later larger mammals."

 

Chander Mohan

Krishi Jagran/New Delhi



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