Gene Editing

A Scientific Endeavor, Ethical Debate, and the Future of De-Extinction

Main image to the post A Scientific Endeavor, Ethical Debate, and the Future of De-Extinction

A Scientific Endeavor with Ethical Considerations

A collaborative project between the University of Melbourne and Colossal Biosciences, led by Professor Andrew Pask, aims to bring back the Tasmanian tiger, also known as the thylacine, from extinction. This ambitious endeavor involves using genetic engineering to modify the cells of a close living relative, the fat-tailed dunnart, to resemble those of the thylacine.

The project has made significant progress since its announcement in 2022. Professor Pask and his team have begun editing the dunnart cells to incorporate the genetic information of the thylacine. This process involves thousands of edits and aims to recreate a functional thylacine cell.

Beyond the de-extinction effort, the project has also led to the development of marsupial stem cell technology. This technology allows scientists to collect tissue samples from animals and convert them into stem cells, which can then be stored in a biobank for future use. This could prove invaluable for preserving the genetic diversity of endangered marsupial species.

While the scientific advancements are impressive, the ethical implications of de-extinction remain a topic of debate. Some, like artist Emma Bugg, express concerns about the potential impact on the environment and the ethical considerations of recreating a species that no longer exists. Others, like student Juneau Murray-De-Brossard, view the project as an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past and restore a lost species.

The project raises important questions about the role of science in shaping the future of our planet and the ethical considerations involved in manipulating the natural world. As the project progresses, it will be crucial to engage in open and informed discussions about the potential benefits and risks of de-extinction technology.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09