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Jurassic Park! Extinct frog species brought back to life by cloning

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 18th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

An extinct Australian frog, gone from the world since 1983, has been revived and reactivated by a team of scientists. Using sophisticated cloning technology to implant a "dead" cell nucleus into a fresh egg from another frog species, the gastric-brooding frog, aka Rheobatrachus silus - has a new lease on life.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - A singularly bizarre amphibian, the gastric-brooding frog swallowed its eggs, brooded its young in its stomach and gave birth through its mouth.

The Lazarus Project team has been able to recover cell nuclei from tissues collected in the 1970s and kept for 40 years in a conventional deep freezer. The team successfully brought the frog back into the realm of the living.

Researchers used a laboratory technique known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, taking fresh donor eggs from the distantly related Great Barred Frog, Mixophyes fasciolatus. The scientists then inactivated the egg nuclei and replaced them with dead nuclei from the extinct frog. Some of the eggs spontaneously began to divide and grow to early embryo stage, i.e. a tiny ball of many living cells.

None of the embryos survived beyond a few days. However genetic tests confirmed that the dividing cells contain the genetic material from the extinct frog. The results have not yet been published.

"We are watching Lazarus arise from the dead, step by exciting step," Professor Mike Archer, of the University of New South Wales, in Sydney says. The leader of the Lazarus Project team says that "We've reactivated dead cells into living ones and revived the extinct frog's genome in the process. Now we have fresh cryo-preserved cells of the extinct frog to use in future cloning experiments.

"We're increasingly confident that the hurdles ahead are technological and not biological and that we will succeed. Importantly, we've demonstrated already the great promise this technology has as a conservation tool when hundreds of the world's amphibian species are in catastrophic decline."

Professor Archer spoke publicly for the first time today about the Lazarus Project and also about his ongoing interest in cloning the extinct Australian thylacine, or Tasmanian tiger, at the TEDx DeExtinction event in Washington D.C.

Researchers from around the world are gathered there to discuss progress and plans to "de-extinct" other extinct animals and plants. Possible candidate species include the woolly mammoth, dodo, Cuban red macaw and New Zealand's giant moa.

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