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article imageScientists clone 16-year-old frozen mice, mammoths next?

By Chris V. Thangham     Nov 5, 2008 in Environment
Scientists were able to take cells from mice frozen at -20 deg C for 16 years, and grow them into healthy clones. It raises hopes of reproducing extinct animals in the future.
Japanese geneticist Teruhiko Wakayama and his team demonstrated this technique and published their work in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
It was a revolutionary method compared to existing cloning methods which require tissues either from live animals or carefully preserved techniques. This method used an entire animal frozen for 16 years. The previous record was held by a Chinese researcher Jinsong Li, who used mice frozen for 350 days.
Initially, scientists thought freezing animals might damage cells, but Wakayama and his team demonstrated they could still get healthy tissue cells preserved at -20 deg C for up to 16 years.
Wakayama’s team recovered intact nuclei from the neurons of the frozen mice and inserted them into living mice eggs. Then, they formed an embryo and let them develop embryonic stem cells that could be harvested. These stem cells were then used to make healthy mouse pups.
Wakayama hopes this technique could be used to clone extinct animals frozen in permafrost like the woolly mammoth frozen in Siberia or from endangered animals.
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