Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Huzzahs are in order

What could drag me back from vacation to blog about something? Two words: Jurassic Park.

Technically, it's Holocene Park. Here's the meat and potatoes of the story, as the cool kids say: Researchers have successfully cloned an extinct subspecies of Ibex, where they had tissue preserved from the last surviving individuals. The Daily Telegraph has the story. This is a long sought holy-grail of conservation Genetics - to revive extinct species means that the end is no longer the end. Right now, when we lose biodiversity, it's 100% gone forever; impossible to recreate. But if whole-organismal cloning can be used to recreate extinct species, then then suddenly it opens the prospects that maybe we could get a second chance at a few species.

Especially the big, fuzzy lovable ones. You know, like Pandas.

Of course, whole organismal cloning is very crude currently, and the technique... well... it has issues. Our success rate with it is still very low. I can't help but wonder if our lack of success in cloning has to do less with DNA damage, and more to do with inappropriate epigenetic enviroment. How I hate that word, epigenetic. It basically means `Anything inherited, but not from the DNA, and we're not sure where.` Or maybe it's my cynicism showing through.

Still, our first subspecies cloned. To quote a TV show, Huzzahs are in order. I hope we do better, and we can make this work. Of course, the underlying causes of the species' extinction must be addressed, otherwise we'll just bring them back to die off all over again. But with some species, who knows? Maybe we stand a chance.