Freeze-dried mice: How a new technique could help conserve species

CBC News -- Jul 06
Japanese scientists have successfully produced cloned mice using freeze-dried cells in a technique they believe could one day help conserve species and overcome challenges with current biobanking methods.

Facilities have sprung up globally to preserve samples from endangered species with the goal of preventing their extinction by future cloning.

These samples are generally cryopreserved using liquid nitrogen or kept at extremely low temperatures, which can be costly and vulnerable to power outages.

They also usually involve sperm and egg cells, which can be difficult or impossible to harvest from old or infertile animals.

Scientists at Japan's University of Yamanashi wanted to see whether they could solve those problems by freeze-drying somatic cells — any cell that isn't a sperm or egg cell — and attempting to produce clones.

They experimented with two types of mice cells, and found that, while freeze-drying killed them and caused significant DNA damage, they could still produce cloned blastocysts — a ball of cells that develops into an embryo.

From these, the scientists extracted stem cell lines that they used to create 75 cloned mice.

One of the mice survived a year and nine months, and the team also successfully mated female and male cloned mice with natural-born partners and produced normal pups. ...continue reading

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