by +Mike Poller – - This is the full text of Sooam’s press release on cloning the Woolly Mammoth. Use at your own risk.
Korea-Russia Mammoth Restoration
Research Collaboration Agreement
1. Contents of the Agreement
Sooam Biotech Research Foundation in Korea and North-Eastern Federal University (NEFU) in Sakha Republic, Russia have agreed to hold an international symposium for mammoth restoration on the 12th of March, 2012 and sign a collaborative research agreement the next day (March 13, 2012). The agreement was signed at Sooam’s research facility in Seoul (2 pm local time) and is expected to open up a new era of academic exchange between Sakha Republic of Russia and Korea. In essence, tissue samples from Russia will be brought to Korea for the utilization of Sooam’s advance animal cloning technology. The details are as follows:
- NEFU will provide Sooam with biological samples from the mammoth and other ancient animal remains starting in 2012 and as soon as authorization documents for their export are completed in Russia.
- NEFU and Sooam will collaborate on future expeditions for the collection of biological samples from mammoth remains. Sooam will be responsible for setting up a mobile laboratory near the site of where the mammoth remains are discovered.
- Sooam will transfer its exclusive expertise and technology on animal cloning to Russian scientists, who will be trained and educated at Sooam’s laboratory in Korea to facilitate the transfer. Russian scientists from NEFU will be sent to Sooam every year starting in 2012.
- NEFU will establish a laboratory in its campus for the study of ancient animals’ genome.
The agreement was signed between Dr. Woo Suk Hwang (CTO) representing Sooam Biotech Research Foundation and Prof. Vasily Vasilyev (First Vice-Rector) representing NEFU under the consent of Rector Evgeniya I. Mikhailova.
2. Short-Term Plan
- Sooam will initiate the mammoth cell restoration project in 2012 from tissue samples collected and exported by NEFU.
- If additional mammoth remains are found, cell culture experts from Sooam will be deployed in the field near the excavation site for immediate cell restoration attempt.
- When the cells are successfully restored, various genetic, cellular, and molecular studies will be performed for validation in collaboration with other international research institutes.
On Dec. 15, 2011, delegation from NEFU in Sakha Republic attended the opening ceremony of the mammoth exhibition in Seoul organized by Korea-Sakha Mammoth Committee. The NEFU delegation included Rector E.I. Mikhailova, Director of Institute of Applied Ecology of the North Dr. Savvinov, and Dr. Fedorov and Dr. Grigoriev from the Mammoth Museum. They had already heard of Dr. Woo Suk Hwang’s world-class technology in animal cloning, but had made up their mind to suggest collaboration in mammoth restoration research after watching a news report on Russian NTV of Dr. Hwang’s successful interspecies cloning of coyotes using eggs from domestic dogs. Cloning in canines are considered to be the most difficult to achieve, but the cloning of coyotes took the technology one step further by using donor cells and eggs from two different species.
- NEFU has already been working with the Japanese for over 10 years on the mammoth restoration project, but an official agreement between the two parties has not been established yet. This shows that NEFU appreciates Sooam’s advanced animal cloning technology recently culminated in the successful interspecies cloning of coyotes.
- The fact that Russian scientists want to be trained and educated at Sooam in the field of bioengineering as a part of this agreement implies that Russia, which has one of the strongest natural science foundations in the world, acknowledges Sooam’s world-class technology.
5. Cloning of Mammoth
- Establish donor cell line from mammoth remains
- remove the nucleus from Indian elephant oocytes
- fuse donor cell from mammoth and enucleated elephant oocyte to produce cloned mammoth embryo
- transfer embryo into a surrogate Indian elephant
- 22 months of gestation
- birth of cloned mammoth
The most important matter in the current stage of research is collaborating with Russian scientists to find the best preserved mammoth remain and collect soft tissue samples from it.
NEFU is the largest institute of higher education not only in Sakha Republic, but also in the whole north-eastern part of Russia. The Institute of Applied Ecology of the North in NEFU is actively pursuing research on mammoth remains. They are experts in excavating mammoth remains without causing damage after expeditions that can take months. The combination of their research on the permafrost soil and anthropology and research on not only mammoth remains, but also on other ancient animals including rhinos, bison, elks, and horses makes NEFU a leading institution in applied ecology. NEFU also built a mammoth museum, providing opportunities for all people to witness the existence of the ancient animal.
Among all unique mammoth fauna fossils discovered in the world, 80-90% is from the Sakha Republic. And the number is increasing due to global warming. Over the last three years, 9 remains of ancient animals were discovered in Sakha. Two of them were mammoths, and the rest included bison, horses, rhinos. Seven were discovered near the Yana River, and the remains are being consistently discovered after 2002. The permafrost layer of Sakha is especially advantageous for preservation of the remains. Most of the remains showed well preserved soft tissue including skin, internal organs, and hair. Using samples from these remains, genetic and molecular analysis would become possible along with the idea of using somatic cell nuclear transfer technique to restore the mammoth.