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Progress claimed in quest to clone mammoth

Published on Sep 12, 2012 8:19 PM
A file picture taken on April 10, 2012, shows the carcass of the world's most well-preserved baby mammoth, named Lyuba, displayed in Hong Kong. -- PHOTO: AFP

MOSCOW (AFP) - There may be some life left yet for the woolly mammoth, according to controversial research by Russian and South Korean scientists that has raised hopes the extinct animal could be cloned.

The team of researchers from Russia and South Korea said they had discovered mammoth tissue fragments buried under metres of permafrost in eastern Siberia that could contain living cells. The existence of the cells - perhaps too few to achieve successful cloning, and treated with scepticism by many stem cell scientists - must still be confirmed by a South Korean lab.

But expedition member Sergei Fyodorov of Russia's Northeastern Federal University said the discovery in the far north of the vast Yakutia region of eastern Siberia could soon lead to actual woolly mammoth cloning attempts.

"We discovered the mammoth tissue fragments in eastern Siberia in early August," Mr Fyodorov told AFP in a telephone interview Wednesday. "It seems that some of the cells still have a living nucleus. We saw that with portable microscopes on the spot - the cells appeared in colour," said the scientist.

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