(ORDO NEWS) — While many are skeptical about the prospect and even the possibility of resurrecting long-extinct creatures, a venture capital company linked to the US Central Intelligence Agency is investing in biotech company Colossal, which promises to resurrect the woolly mammoth and the Tasmanian tiger.
The use of genetic information from the restored DNA of extinct creatures to resurrect them in the modern world is the central idea of a science fiction novel and a whole series of films “Jurassic Park”.
Breakthrough achievements in the field of biotechnology, especially genetic engineering, in recent years may provide an opportunity to return long-extinct species to our real world.
At least in the form of the so-called proxy species – genetically modified close relatives of currently existing animals.
This goal was set by the biotechnology company Colossal Biosciences from Dallas (USA), who gathered to resurrect two extinct mammals – the woolly mammoth and the thylacine (also known as the marsupial wolf or the Tasmanian tiger).
The company plans to use a well-known genetic engineering method for this – gene editing technology based on the CRISPR-Cas system.
As a basis for creating a proxy species of woolly mammoth, Colossal chose an Asian elephant, whose genome shares 99.6 percent with the genome of an extinct ancient relative.
Using CRISPR technology, the company intends to replace mismatched DNA in induced pluripotent stem cells created from elephant skin cells.
Further, mammoth embryos will be created from stem cells, which will be grown in artificial wombs. Colossal plans to avoid the use of surrogacy in this way, since the Asian elephants themselves are endangered.
The founders of the company – Dr. George Church, a genetic engineer and molecular biologist, “the father of synthetic biology”, professor at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and serial entrepreneur Ben Lamm – have already amassed an impressive list of sponsors and investors.
And they seem to have recently been joined by In-Q-Tel, a venture capital firm linked to the US Central Intelligence Agency.
Legally, In-Q-Tel is an independent, private, non-profit corporation that is not under the control of the CIA or any other government agency.
In fact, the corporation is bound by a charter agreement and an annual contract with the CIA, which sets out the relationship between the two organizations.
In particular, In-Q-Tel invests in high-tech companies to ensure that the CIA and other intelligence agencies are equipped with the latest technology to support the US intelligence capability.
“Biotechnology and bioeconomics are crucial for the further development of mankind. It is important for our government to develop these areas and have an idea of what is possible,” said Ben Lamm, co-founder of Colossal Biosciences.
It’s worth noting that Colossal isn’t the first biotech company In-Q-Tel has invested in. Previously, the corporation’s portfolio expanded to include firms and start-ups that make equipment for DNA sequencing and analysis, apply artificial intelligence methods to map and analyze the risks of infectious diseases, and develop methods for producing biofuels using bacteria.
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