Tag Archives: genetics

Scientist want to resurrect the extinct Tasmanian tiger

The last Thylacine died in 1936 in Tasmania

Nearly 100 years ago, the last Tasmanian tiger died, ending the reign of a species that dates back to 1000 BC. Now scientists are looking to bring them back from the dead. 

Known as Thylacine, the carnivorous marsupial once roamed the Australian outback before the last known survivor of the striped species died in 1936. Scientists now plan to use genetic technology, ancient DNA collection, and artificial reproduction to bring the tiger back. 

“We would strongly advocate that first and foremost we need to protect our biodiversity from further extinctions, but unfortunately we are not seeing a slowing down in species loss,” said Andrew Pask, a professor at the University of Melbourne leading the project at the Thylacine Integrated Genetic Restoration Research Lab. 

“This technology offers a chance to correct this and could be applied in exceptional circumstances where cornerstone species have been lost.”

The last Tasmanian Tiger, named Benjamin, went extinct in 1936 not long after his species had been granted a protective status. 

The last Tasmanian Tiger, named Benjamin, went extinct in 1936 not long after his species had been granted a protective status.  (Getty Images)

The thylacine project is working with technology investor Ben Lamm’s Colossal Biosciences and Harvard Medical School geneticist George Church. Lamm’s organization has also launched a $15 million project to bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction. 

The last living thylacine was named Benjamin and died in 1936 at the Beaumaris Zoo in Tasmania, shortly after the animal species had been given protected status. 

The team plans to first design a genome for the tiger and compare it to the dunnart, its closest living relative. Scientists will then use CRISPR gene editing technology to eventually create an embryo.

“We then take living cells from our dunnart and edit their DNA every place where it differs from the thylacine. We are essentially engineering our dunnart cell to become a Tasmanian tiger cell,” Pask claimed. 

The researcher concluded, “With this partnership, I now believe that in ten years’ time we could have our first living baby thylacine since they were hunted to extinction close to a century ago.”

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Secret second code found hiding within human DNA

Secret second code found hiding within human DNA

Published December 13, 2013

  • dna molecules.jpg

Scientists have long believed that DNA tells the cells how to make proteins. But the discovery of a new, second DNA code overnight suggests the body speaks two different languages.

The findings in the journal Science may have big implications for how medical experts use the genomes of patients to interpret and diagnose diseases, researchers said.

The newfound genetic code within deoxyribonucleic acid, the hereditary material that exists in nearly every cell of the body, was written right on top of the DNA code scientists had already cracked.

‘A basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture.’

– John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine

Rather than concerning itself with proteins, this one instructs the cells on how genes are controlled.

Its discovery means DNA changes, or mutations that come with age or in response to viruses, may be doing more than what scientists previously thought, he said.

“For over 40 years we have assumed that DNA changes affecting the genetic code solely impact how proteins are made,” said lead author John Stamatoyannopoulos, University of Washington associate professor of genome sciences and of medicine.

“Now we know that this basic assumption about reading the human genome missed half of the picture,” he said.

“Many DNA changes that appear to alter protein sequences may actually cause disease by disrupting gene control programs or even both mechanisms simultaneously.”

Scientists already knew that the genetic code uses a 64-letter alphabet called codons.

But now researchers have figured out that some of these codons have two meanings. Coined duons, these new elements of DNA language have one meaning related to protein sequence and another that is related to gene control.

The latter instructions “appear to stabilise certain beneficial features of proteins and how they are made,” the study said.

The discovery was made as part of the international collaboration of research groups known as the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project, or ENCODE.

It is funded by the US National Human Genome Research Institute with the goal of finding out where and how the directions for biological functions are stored in the human genome.

Get more science and technology news at news.com.au.

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Woman Sought to Have Neanderthal Baby

Scientist seeks ‘adventurous woman’ to have Neanderthal baby

Published January 21, 2013


  • Homo Neanderthalensis

    Hyper-realistic busts of human ancestors — like this version of homo neandertal — give us a glimpse of what our ancient relatives may have looked like. (John Gurche)

  • An artist imagines the typical Neanderthal family.

    An artist imagines the typical Neanderthal family. (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

  • Neanderthal Tooth Fairy

    In this picture made available by Szczecin University’s Department of Archaelogy on Monday, Feb. 1, 2010 one of three Neanderthal teeth discovered in Poland is pictured . A team of Polish scientists say they have discovered three Neanderthal teeth in a cave in the southern part of the country. Mikolaj Urbanowski, an archaeologist and the lead researcher, said Monday that, although Neanderthal artifacts have been unearthed in Poland before, the teeth are the first remains of Neanderthals themselves discovered in the country. (AP)

EDITOR’S NOTE: The genetics professor quoted here, George Church, said after publication of this story that his quotes to the German magazine on which this article is based were distorted. An updated version of the story appears here.

Where’s Fred Flintstone when you need him?

A professor of genetics at Harvard’s Medical School believes he’s capable of bringing the long-extinct Neanderthal back to life — all he’s lacking is the right mother.

“I can create a Neanderthal baby, if I can find a willing woman,” George Church told German newspaper Spiegel Online. The DNA of the Neanderthal, a long extinct relative of man, has been more or less rebuilt, a process called genetic sequencing.

In 2005, 454 Life Sciences began a project with the Max Planck Institute to sequence the genetic code of a 30,000 year old Neanderthal woman. Now nearly complete, the sequence will let scientists look at the genetic blueprint of humankind’s nearest relative, understand its biology and maybe even create a living person.

And with that blueprint, it’s very possible to “resurrect” the Neanderthal, he argues — something Church has been pushing for years. Church did not respond to FoxNews.com requests to confirm the Spiegel Online story, but last year, he told Bloomberg he was keen on the idea.

“We have lots of Neanderthal parts around the lab. We are creating Neanderthal cells. Let’s say someone has a healthy, normal Neanderthal baby. Well, then, everyone will want to have a Neanderthal kid. Were they superstrong or supersmart? Who knows? But there’s one way to find out.”

Last year, researchers finished sequencing the genome of another extinct human relative, the denisovan — based solely off a piece of fingerbone and two molars.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/01/21/scientist-seeks-adventurous-woman-to-have-neanderthal-baby/?intcmp=features#ixzz2LaOI7PjA

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