‘Scientists a step closer to Jurassic Park’

November 5th, 2008 - 5:33 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Nov 5 (IANS) Scientists are a step closer to resurrecting extinct animals after successfully cloning living mice from the cells of frozen animals, according to findings published Wednesday.A team of Japanese scientists at the Centre for Developmental Biology, at the RIKEN research institute in Kobe, produced the clones after thawing mice that had been frozen at minus 20C for up to 16 years, British newspapers reported.

Results of the research are published Wednesday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), one of the world’s most cited multi-disciplinary scientific serials.

While clones have been created from live donor cells, this is said to be the first time frozen cells have been cloned - DNA can be damaged by ice crystals.

The scientists, led by Teruhiko Wakayama, created four mouse clones, from which they engineered another nine by mixing the cells of different embryos.

“Thus, nuclear transfer techniques could be used to ‘resurrect’ animals or maintain valuable genomic stocks from tissues frozen for prolonged periods without any cryopreservation,” the scientists write in the PNAS.

“Cloning animals by nuclear transfer provides an opportunity to preserve endangered mammalian species.”

“However, it has been suggested that the ‘resurrection’ of frozen extinct species [such as the woolly mammoth] is impracticable, as no live cells are available, and the genomic material that remains is inevitably degraded,” they add.

But others think the research can enable the recreation of extinct animals, just as scientists did in the fictional book and movie, Jurassic Park.

Malcolm Alison, Professor of Stem Cell Biology at St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London and the London School of Medicine and Dentistry, told the Daily Mail: “While 16 years is not a long time for cells to be frozen - IVF clinics often have viable sperm frozen for longer periods - there are no scientific reasons why extinct animals like mammoths could not be similarly generated.”

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