Jurassic Park, the Sequel

The whole premise of "Jurassic Park" was preposterous on its face.  Making clones of long-dead animals?  We know better.

But now a Japanese team has taken -- let's say, a step.  They report, in this week's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, that they cloned mice from bodies that had been kept frozen for 16 years.  It's not bringing life back from the Jurassic, just the 1990s, but still, it's something most biologists would have thought impossible.

The abstract of the paper is HERE. "As all of the cells were ruptured after thawing, we used a modified cloning method and examined nuclei from several organs for use in nuclear transfer attempts," write Teruhiko Wakayama and his colleagues at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan. "Using brain nuclei as nuclear donors, we established embryonic stem cell lines from the cloned embryos. Healthy cloned mice were then produced from these nuclear transferred embryonic stem cells by serial nuclear transfer."

Edyta Zielinska at The Scientist in Britain went looking for reaction.  "If you had asked me five years ago" if cloning a frozen animal were possible, said Peter Mombaerts of the Max Planck Institute of Biophysics, "I would have said 'no way.'"

It's only going back 16 years, not 160 million, but the researchers say there might be benefits to their work.  They talk of protecting endangered species, now, before too much time passes.

(Image courtesy National Academy of Sciences-PNAS.)

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