The line between scientific progress and morality could become much more blurred within two years, according to a new estimate from Harvard scientists.
Long before the hit movie Jurassic Park chomped its way through the American box office, scientists have been toying with the idea of resurrection science; the study of de-extinction. Now, scientists at Harvard University believe they are within two years of bringing the wooly mammoth back from the dead.
“Speaking ahead of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Boston this week, the scientist leading the ‘de-extinction’ effort said the Harvard team is just two years away from creating a hybrid embryo, in which mammoth traits would be programmed into an Asian elephant.
“’Our aim is to produce a hybrid elephant-mammoth embryo,’ said Prof George Church. ‘Actually, it would be more like an elephant with a number of mammoth traits. We’re not there yet, but it could happen in a couple of years.’
“The creature, sometimes referred to as a ‘mammophant’, would be partly elephant, but with features such as small ears, subcutaneous fat, long shaggy hair and cold-adapted blood. The mammoth genes for these traits are spliced into the elephant DNA using the powerful gene-editing tool, Crispr.
“Until now, the team have stopped at the cell stage, but are now moving towards creating embryos – although, they said that it would be many years before any serious attempt at producing a living creature.”
The morality of the work in question has been debated for years, as the earth’s natural predilection was for the extinction of the mammoth. Now, has science gone too far, or will the study of a true wooly mammoth embryo benefit the world as a whole?
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