Cell nuclei from ancient woolly mammoth show signs of biological activity

The same team of scientists had tried to use a nuclear transfer to spark activity in different mammoth's cells several years ago but had no luck.

Researchers from Japan and Russian Federation observed biological activity when they transplanted cell nuclei from a woolly mammoth from the Siberian permafrost into the eggs of mice, moving a step closer to the goal of bringing the extinct mammal back to life.

"We were able to observe the activities of cell nuclei extracted from the remains of an ancient order from at least 28,000 years ago", said Kei Miyamoto, a lecturer in the Department of Genetic Engineering at Kindai University's Faculty of Biology-Oriented Science and Technology.

The team experimented with what they called are "well-preserved" tissue samples from the animal's bone marrow and muscle, which allowed them to collect as many as 88 nucleus-like structures, further sewn into mouse oocytes, a cell in an ovary.

Cell nuclei contain DNA, the so-called blueprint for life, and mouse ova have been found in experiments to have a reparative function for DNA. In five of these eggs, the gathering of proteins that form the spindle was also observed.

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However, there were varying levels of DNA damage done, which the researchers said "were comparable to those of frozen-thawed mouse sperm and were reduced in some reconstructed oocytes".

The global research team led by Akira Iritani, a professor emeritus at Kindai University here, published the research results on March 11 in the British magazine Scientific Reports. This would then be transplanted into the uterus of an elephant to give birth to a mammoth.

The majority of the mammoth population died out between 14,000 and 10,000 years ago, with the last mainland population estimated to have plodded around in the Kyttyk Peninsula of Siberia until 9,650 years ago.

The research - published Monday in the journal Scientific Reports - doesn't provide much hope for Jurassic Park-style resurrection of long-extinct species just yet, he cautioned.

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