Tuesday, 24 March 2015

FINALLY: Mammoth genes inserted into elephant DNA

March 24, 2015

Chuck Bednar for redOrbit.com – @BednarChuck

DNA from mammoths found in Arctic permafrost has been inserted into the genes of modern-day elephants, bringing the extinct mammal one step closer to roaming the Earth once again.

According to The Sunday Times, Harvard University genetics professor George Church and his colleagues took 14 genes from a well-preserved mammoth specimen and integrated them into an elephant, where they functioned as normal DNA.

Those genes, which were for traits that separated mammoths and elephants (such as hair and ear size) were replicated and inserted into the elephant using a precision-editing technique known as Crispr, which allowed them to replace sections of elephant DNA with mammoth genes.

“We prioritized genes associated with cold resistance including hairiness, ear size, subcutaneous fat and, especially, hemoglobin [the blood molecule that carries oxygen around the body],” he explained. “We now have functioning elephant cells with mammoth DNA in them. We have not published it in a scientific journal because there is more work to do, but we plan to do so.”

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