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Japan, Russia scientists see high chance of cloning mammoth

Scientists from Japan and Russia have confirmed that there is well-preserved bone marrow in a mammoth thighbone found in August in permafrost soil in Siberia, increasing the possibility that they could clone a mammoth, they recently told Kyodo News.

The teams from the Sakha Republic's mammoth museum and Kinki University's graduate school in biology-oriented science and technology will launch full-fledged joint research next year to regenerate the gigantic mammal believed to have become extinct about 10,000 years ago, they said.

By transplanting nuclei taken from the marrow cells into elephant egg cells whose nuclei have been removed through a type of cloning technique, embryos with a mammoth gene can be produced and planted into elephant wombs for delivery, as the two species are close relatives, they said.

Securing nuclei with an undamaged gene is essential for the nucleus transplantation technique, but doing so from mammoth body parts has long been difficult and prevented the scientists engaged in the research since around the late 1990s from reproducing a mammoth, they said.

In the Sakha Republic in eastern Russia, global warming has thawed its almost permanently frozen ground and led to discoveries of many frozen mammoths, but cell nuclei are usually damaged by natural freezing or have not been kept frozen even if found in good conditions, a Russian museum official said.

This time, there is a high likelihood that biologically active nuclei can be extracted as the frozen marrow, found when museum scientists cut the thighbone on Nov. 13, was fresh and in unprecedentedly good condition, according to the official. The bone was found near Batagay in northern Sakha. Read More

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