Forget extinction: U.S. company plans to bring back wooly mammoths

(Image by <a href="">Stefan Keller</a> from <a href="">Pixabay</a>)
(Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay)

Wooly mammoths might be making a comeback thanks to Colossal Biosciences of the great state of Texas.

The Dallas-based company says it plans to take on the environmental issues that led to critical endangerment and perform the once seemingly impossible task of reviving long-extinct species.

Colossal announced it will pioneer the use of CRISPR technology along with other genome engineering technologies toward a practical working model of de-extinction initially focused on its long-term goals of successful restoration and rewilding of functional woolly mammoths, large proboscideans from the Ice Age, to the tundra, according to a press release.

It said genetic engineering applications expand beyond animals and have the potential to advance human health, enhance food production, reduce environmental impact, and optimize animal health and welfare.

The company, co-founded by software entrepreneur Ben Lamm with geneticist and serial biotech entrepreneur George Church, Ph.D., announced in March it had raised more that $75 million for the project. That’s enough, they think, to bring back the wooly mammoth – and other extinct species as well as critically endangered species.

Colossal Biosciences CEO Ben Lamm (left) with co-founder George Church, PhD (Photo courtesy Colossal).
Colossal Biosciences CEO Ben Lamm (left) with co-founder George Church, PhD (Photo courtesy Colossal).

“We’re making the path to de-extinction and species preservation a reality by bringing the planet one step closer to reversing the downward trend of ecosystem degradation and the staggering loss of biodiversity through cutting edge genetic tools,” Lamm said.

“The technologies and solutions developed through our mammoth restoration project will not only return Arctic elephants to the tundra, but will target larger implications for conservation, science, and humanity.”

Through radical transparency and collaboration with nonprofits, conservation groups, governments, and the general public, Colossal aims to develop genetic toolkits and support DNA databases to aid in the restoration, diversification and rewilding of endangered species, Colossal indicated. This work and collaboration will also enable comprehensive population-based sequencing and computational analysis of elephants and mammoth genomes, genome editing, and viral disease resistance, as well as ex-vivo development.

Plans include repopulating the Arctic with a population of “mammoth-elephant hybrids.”

Colossal announced an oversubscribed $60 million Series A financing led by Thomas Tull and At One Ventures with participation from Untamed Planet, Animoca Brands, Breyer Capital, Animal Capital, Arch Ventures co-founder Robert Nelsen, Paris Hilton, Bold Capital, First Light Capital Group, Boost VC, Jazz Ventures, Builders VC, Green Sands Equity, Draper Associates, Charles Hoskinson, among others, bringing total funding to $75 million.

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