Genetically modified news

In a world first, scientists have extracted a gene from the extinct Tasmanian tiger and successfully inserted it into a mouse embryo. Researchers from the University of Melbourne and the University of Texas, say the technology will not lead to the cloning of an entire Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine.

tiger embyoIt seems the process isolated one gene and proved its function, sort of like pulling a segment of software and testing its function in another program. If they could find a gene for intelligence to insert into TV news people we’d really benefit.

While they are reporting that we are a step closer to ‘Jurassic Park’ many of us familiar with the thylacine story are wishing the cloning nonsense would go away. Resurrecting an example of this allegedly extinct animal, isolated from its social milieu, raises its own questions.

I say allegedly, as the areas of Tasmania where the tigers were known to exist is sufficiently large and inaccessible to still contain some of these animals. There have been sporadic reports of sightings around the edges of these wilderness rainforest areas.

The great part is that if proof is found of their continued existence it will be kept a tight secret. Humans drove the tiger to ‘extinction’ by the 1930s, and would probably be eager to finish the ob off if others were found now.

5 thoughts on “Genetically modified news”

  1. Fair go, sabre tooth? :) The last live one known was in the 1930s. As to the point of the exercise, as far as can fathom it is just part of the overall genetic manipulation research. Perhaps the thylacine was selected because of potential publicity/grant value.

  2. Crossing a cat with a mouse?! Sounds like a critter that’ll chase itself into extinction.

    As you suggest, whatever else it is, it’s good practice, and maybe the choice will garner a little good pub.

  3. The great part is that if proof is found of their continued existence it will be kept a tight secret.

    So…here’s the perplexing question to my mind: If the cat turned out not to be extinct, would it then be OK to clone it?

  4. First up, the thylacine is a marsupial, but probably from the canine branch.
    Michael, you have to find some way to ensure funding…
    Kvatch, I can’t really see the purpose of cloning, extinct or otherwise. But I do see value in understanding genetics, though I expect extending life is wasted on much of the human race.

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