(CTN News) – Australian and US scientists are trying to reintroduce the Tasmanian Tiger (thylacine) to Tasmania, a marsupial that died out in the 1930s.
It was announced last year that Colossal would use genetic engineering techniques to recreate the woolly mammoth and return it to the Arctic tundra using genetic engineering techniques, the second undertaking of the Texas-based biotechnology “deextinction” company. The thylacine is also known as the Tasmanian tiger.
Earlier this year, the University of Melbourne received a $5 million philanthropic gift to open a genetic restoration lab for Tasmanian Tiger.
The lab’s team previously sequenced the genome of a juvenile specimen held by Museums Victoria, providing what its leader, Prof Andrew Pask, called “basically a blueprint for building Tasmanian Tiger.”
were the only marsupials with apex predators in Australia. It once roamed the continent, but wasn’t found on the mainland until 3,000 years ago. It is a dog-like animal with stripes across its back and was hunted extensively after European colonization.
There was one survivor known in 1936, but he died in captivity. Even though hundreds of sightings were reported over the years that followed, and some quixotic attempts were made to prove its continuation, it was officially declared extinct in the 1980s.
In order to reverse this trend, the researchers plan to take stem cells from a fat-tailed dunnart, a living species with similar DNA, and use gene editing expertise developed by Professor George Church, co-founder of Colossal, to turn them into “thylacine” cells—or the closest approximation possible.
In order to make an embryo from stem cells, new assisted reproductive technologies will need to be developed for marsupials, which will be transferred either to an artificial womb or to a dunnart surrogate.
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