Wednesday, 21 May, 2008 Science
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Scientific Breakthrough: Extinct Animal DNA Revived in a Live Animal

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For the first time DNA from the extinct Tasmanian tiger was brought to life in another living organism by Australian scientists.

Researchers from the University of Melbourne, Australia, in collaboration with the University of Texas, USA, have extracted thylacine gene from the extinct Tasmanian tiger and inserted it into a mouse and it functioned.

Though reviving the genes doesn't mean that the extinct animal will be reborn, it holds a potential for further research, revealing the biology of extinct animals and developing new biomedicines.

This breakthrough means that scientists can one day get the knowledge of much older specimens.

The Tasmanian tiger or thylacine was the world’s largest marsupial carnivore that was hunted to extinction in the wild in 1900s. The last Tasmanian tiger died in 1936 in Hobart Zoo in Tasmania.

Several young Tasmanian tigers were preserved in alcohol in museum collections, including Museum Victoria in Melbourne, where DNA from 100-year-old thylacine was isolated and inserted into mouse embryos to examine how it worked in a living organism. The mice produced collagen using thylacine gene, functioning in the developing mouse cartilage, which will later form the bone. The discovery became a result of nine year work for Australian and US scientists.

Earlier, scientists tried to extract DNA from extinct species, beginning with bacteria to mammoth and Neanderthals, but until now they didn't succeed in studying the role of genome in the development.

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