This CRISPR startup thinks that mammoths can save the Arctic. Is it right?


It’s almost been a decade since Harvard geneticist George Church first talked about using synthetic biology to bring woolly mammoths back to life. Now, his idea to reverse history is pressing forward.

Today, Church and software entrepreneur Ben Lamm announced the launch of their biotech startup, Colossal, with seed funding of $15 million. The mission of the company is two-fold: to preserve endangered animals (and someday plants) with gene-editing technology, and use those animals to reshape Arctic ecosystems to fight climate change.

The plan is to use CRISPR to add 60-plus genes from the extinct woolly mammoth into the cells of an embryo of an Asian elephant, which is its closest living relative. The two species share 99.6 percent of their genome, Colossal claims.

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