In true "Jurassic Park" style, scientists at Harvard University have successfully managed to insert genes from the woolly mammoth into the genome of an elephant. While this may represent significant progress in the field, lead researcher George Church has reportedly played down claims that the work brings us closer to recreating these iconic animals.
This is what Church and his team have been endeavoring to do, but there are at least three separate teams trying to recreate the creature, according to The Telegraph. Church began by analyzing the DNA isolated from mammoth specimens and comparing it to that of the Asian elephant, searching for genes that separated them from their relatives. Next, they made exact copies of these stretches of DNA before using a fairly new gene-editing technique to make precise cuts in the elephant genome and insert the desired mammoth genes. “We prioritized genes associated with cold resistance including hairiness, ear size, subcutaneous fat and, especially, hemoglobin [the molecule in red blood cells that transports oxygen around the body]" Church told the Sunday Times. “We now have functioning elephant cells with mammoth DNA in them. We have not published it in a scientific journal because there is more work to do, but we plan to do so."