Monday 6 February 2023

Scientists to engineer woolly mammoth's return by 2027

 The long-extinct woolly mammoth is slated for a return to the world stage by 2027, Popular Mechanics reported Monday of biotechnology startup Colossal's ambitious project.

"It will walk like a woolly mammoth, look like one, sound like one, but most importantly, it will be able to inhabit the same ecosystem previously abandoned by the mammoth's extinction," the Texas-based, billion-dollar company said of its landmark de-extinction project.

"The woolly mammoth is a vital defender of the earth," the site also says.

Colossal Laboratories & Biosciences began making headlines again after recent press releases highlighting their work on similar projects to "de-extinct" other ancient creatures like the dodo bird.

"In addition to bringing back ancient extinct species like the woolly mammoth, we will be able to leverage our technologies to help preserve critically endangered species that are on the verge of extinction and restore animals where humankind had a hand in their demise," said CEO and Colossal co-founder Ben Lamm on the organization's website.

One key goal of the project is to save modern elephants from extinction.

What is CRISPR or CRISPR-Cas9?

An acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats, CRISPR is the revolutionary gene-editing technology that could make long extinct creatures' return a reality.

The Nobel Prize-winning genome editing method is described as a "tool for rewriting the code of life."

ts uses go far beyond Jurassic Park-seeming endeavors like Colossal's.

"With these systems, researchers can permanently modify genes in living cells and organisms and, in the future, may make it possible to correct mutations at precise locations in the human genome in order to treat genetic causes of disease," says Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard of CRISPR's applications.

Who is behind Colossal and its funding?

Colossal's co-founders are Ben Lamm and George Church, Ph.D. Eriona Hysolli, Ph.D. is the Head of Biological Sciences at Colossal serving as "mammoth lead."

Colossal announced "an oversubscribed $150M Series B financing led by United States Innovative Technology Fund ('USIT'), with participation from Breyer Capital, WestRiver Group, Bob Nelsen, Animal Capital, Victor Vescovo, In-Q-Tel, Animoca Brands, Peak 6, BOLD Capital, and Jazz Ventures, among others," BusinessWire reported Tuesday.

What does the effort have to do with climate change?

Several of Colossal's ten core goals for reviving the mammoth involve climate change in some form. Some examples of the company's climate change-related goals for the mammoth project involve decelerating melting of arctic permafrost, preventing greenhouse gas emissions, and "establish[ing] a proven link between genetic sciences and climate change."

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