Scientists are delving into the realm of resurrection biology, a field dedicated to reviving ancient cells preserved in ice, for groundbreaking purposes. This remarkable research not only aims to discover new sources of medicine but also presents the potential to bring back extinct species. Over the past year, researchers have made significant progress in this field, turning to the past as a key to unlocking future solutions.
Contrary to the popular idea of bringing dinosaurs back to life as depicted in the film “Jurassic Park,” the primary purpose of this scientific endeavor is to gain insights into prehistoric cells for drug discovery and a deeper understanding of human history. The discovery of ancient viruses trapped in the permafrost of Siberia has raised concerns as global temperatures rise and ice begins to melt. These viruses, dubbed “zombie viruses,” pose a significant threat to humanity. Scientists fear that as they reemerge, they could potentially devastate life on Earth. Consequently, these ancient viruses are viewed as surrogates for other potential viruses lurking in the permafrost.
Additionally, scientists are exploring the potential of ancient specimens as sources for antibiotics. In light of pathogens increasingly becoming resistant to conventional treatments, researchers are investigating the use of ancient cells to develop new antibiotics that can combat these stubborn and evolving pathogens.
In a remarkable development, biotechnology startup Colossal Biosciences has set its sights on resurrecting not one but three extinct species – the dodo bird, woolly mammoth, and Tasmanian tiger. Combining DNA sequencing, gene-editing technology, and synthetic biology, their innovative approach aims to bring these species back to life. To accomplish this feat, geneticists have made a groundbreaking discovery. They have identified alterable cells in the Nicobar pigeon that can be manipulated to resemble those of the dodo. These altered cells will then be inserted into chicken embryos. While the resulting offspring will not be an exact replica of the dodo, it will be a hybrid impression of the bird. It will take years of selective breeding to enhance it into a larger, flightless bird similar to the dodo.
The field of resurrection biology offers immense potential for scientific progress and understanding. While we may not witness the return of dinosaurs roaming the Earth as in the fictional world of Jurassic Park, this cutting-edge research has the power to revolutionize medicine and our perspective on extinct species. As researchers tap into the ancient cells preserved in ice, the possibilities for human advancement and the preservation of our planet grow exponentially.