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Tasmanian tiger cloning scheme dumped.

Tasmanian tiger cloning scheme dumped.

Museum ditches thylacine cloning project

The Australian Museum has dumped its much-publicised attempt to clone a tasmanian tiger, or thylacine.

The ambitious project was launched in 1999 by the museum's then-director, Professor Mike Archer. The plan was to clone a tasmanian tiger from DNA recovered from a thylacine pup which had been preserved in ethanol for 136 years.

But the museum's current director, Frank Howarth, and its assistant director of science and collections, Les Christidis, say the quality of the DNA is too poor to work with.

They say while the museum has sufficient expertise to try to construct a DNA library, it lacks the facilities and skill to conduct "further stages requiring cell culture".

The cell culture stage of the project would have been necessary to enable cells from other specimens to act as hosts for parts of the reconstructed genome.

"The museum's future involvement in the thylacine project has been re-evaluated," the museum said in a statement to ABC Science Online.

"In fact, further investigation has now revealed that the thylacine DNA is far too degraded to even construct an DNA library.

"Given this, the project cannot proceed to the next stage."

Professor Archer, now the dean of science at the University of New South Wales, says the cloning project has lost steam since he left the museum in 2003.

In a statement to ABC Science Online, Professor Archer says he is disappointed by the museum's decision but he says he still hopes it might be possible to bring the thylacine back to life.

"I and other colleagues remain interested in the project and I don't think that it will simply die because the museum can't proceed," he says.

"The technology to make it happen is improving all the time. And I believe science has a duty to continue to assemble the building blocks that will be needed to do it."

 

Related Links Related Links

Thylacine project dumped

Read a comprehensive report on the dumping of the thylacine project by Judy Skatssoon of ABC Science Online.

 



Related Links Related Links

  • Thylacine project dumped
    Read a comprehensive report on the dumping of the thylacine project by Judy Skatssoon of ABC Science Online.

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