A biobank for endangered animals could be a real-life Noah’s Ark

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The chief scientist behind the creation of Dolly the Sheep – the world’s first mammal cloned from an adult somatic cell – has called for the establishment of a biobank to preserve the biological tissue of endangered animals.

« The absolute minimum we should do is preserve tissues from these animals in such a way they can be thawed and grown again, » Wilmut, an embryologist from the University of Edinburgh in the UK, told the media.

Such a facility could preserve matter such as animal eggs and sperm, which could hypothetically help scientists to effectively resurrect species if they become extinct in the future – functioning much like an animal-focused version of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault in Norway.

But while researchers might one day be able to make viable embryos from stored cells and tissues, Wilmut acknowledges large gains would first need to be made in biological science – especially since a living surrogate female animal from another species would be needed to carry and give birth to any animal produced by the procedure.

So far, scientists have had mixed results with resurrecting animal species, suggesting that we still have a way to go before we really know what we’re doing.

Source: Science Alert

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