Professor Hwang Woo Suk from South Korea’s Sooam Biotech Research, once a national hero until his creation of human stem cells was found fake, signed on Tuesday a very ambitious deal with the North-Eastern Federal University of the Sakha Republic in Russia. Stem cell scientists are focusing on the extinct woolly mammoth.
Because of global warming the remains of one of these animals has been uncovered which walked last on earth 10,000 years ago. As soon as possible the scientists want to take tissue samples from the remains and bring them from Russia to South Korea. Right now Hwang is waiting for the approval to export the tissue samples out of Russia.
Further the scientists are planning to replace the nuclei of egg cells taken from an elephant with the ones taken from the mammoth’s somatic cells. The egg cells will be then planted into an elephant’s womb for delivery. In return for the tissue samples Sooam is going to share their technology know-how with the Russian university.
“The first and hardest mission is to restore mammoth cells” Sooam researcher Hwang In-Sung said. Already years ago scientists tried to clone a mammoth. In 2008 the genotype of the mammoth was mostly discovered. But the professional journal “Nature” still estimated the success of cloning a mammoth very low. The genotype was supposed to be too much destroyed.
Sooam scientist admit: “This will be a really tough job, but we believe it is possible because our institute is good at cloning animals”. Previous cloned animals in South Korea include a cow, a cat, a pig, a wolf and even eight coyotes.
We will see if Jurassic Park is after all more than just fiction.