Monday, 5 May 2014

TED reflection - TED x - DeExtinction

I recently did a biology project about bringing back the wooly mammoth through the method of either cloning or reprogramming cells. While doing research, I came across this website and noticed there was a TED talk on it. 

Throughout this TED talk, I was very interested in what the speaker; Hendrik Poinar, had to say. He talks about being able to sequence the genome of extinct animals, and thinking that 10 years ago, it was very unlikely to happen. Today, scientists from around the world have actually been able to sequence the human genome which is absolutely remarkable! Years ago, it would have been impossible because of the technology we had around then, as opposed to now. He also talks about reviving an extinct animal, being asked years ago; impossible. Today it is a reality, cloning an animal. The main topic he talks about is actually being able to revive an extinct species, which today is in reach. For example, the wooly mammoth. As long as there is well preserved cells and blood which has been found. He talks about the steps of taking the DNA from the wooly mammoth and extracting it from the bacteria and using this DNA to revive the wooly mammoth. 

Some fun facts that I recall from his TED talk... 

- comparing the chromosomes of an Asian elephant to the chromosomes a wooly mammoth can tell us how different the genome is and what sequences they need to be able to revive the wooly mammoth. 

- The mammoth genome is almost at full completion 

- The human genome is about 3 billion base pairs while the elephant and mammoth genome is about 2 billion base pairs larger than that of the human genome. 

- We can take an Asian elephant chromosomes, modify them so they match the chromosomes of the mammoth, put that into an e-nucleated cell, differentiate that into a stem cell, differentiate that into maybe sperm, artificially inseminate an Asian elephant egg and over a long and **arguous* procedure, bring back something that looks like the wooly mammoth. 

        -Because of certain parts missing from the chromosomes, it wouldn't be an exact replica, but it would be something that looked and felt much like a wooly mammoth. 

One major question which is turning many people away from wanting to bring back the wooly mammoth is "Where will we put it?". Well, Hendrik Poinar has an answer to that in his TED talk. There is plenty of area for 'housing' a mammoth in the north of Siberia. 

Though there is an answer to that question, there are many more posed as to whether or not we want to bring back the mammoth. 

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