In the Dr. Seuss story, Horton the elephant was tricked into hatching a bird's egg. Back in the 1990s, a mouse was tricked into producing an elephant's egg. Now Japanese scientists report that mice have been fooled into making mammoth eggs. Well, nearly.
The latest report from Japan details the successful recovery of cell nuclei from 14,000-year-old mammoth tissues and their injection into enucleated mouse oocytes, more than half of which survived. They didn't develop any further; none showed "disappearance of nuclear membrane or premature chromosome condensation (PCC)" or formed "pronuclear-like structures" as some of the control group (frozen mouse tissues) did. Nevertheless, they claim:
"This is the first report of SCNT with nuclei derived from mammoth tissues."
Cloning -- or re-creating -- mammoths seems to be something of an obsession in certain quarters. An article in July's Cloning and Stem Cells [abstract] spells out the many technical difficulties, and stresses that the use of Asian elephants as surrogates is both "near to impossible" and "completely unethical" since the elephants are endangered. It's subtitled, in part, "Hope for the Mammoth."
Previously on Biopolitical Times:
Posted in Animal Technologies, Hybrids & Chimeras, Pete Shanks's Blog Posts, Reproductive Cloning
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