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Harvard professor says it’s possible to clone Neanderthals with help from ‘adventurous’ surrogate


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Genetics expert George Church addressed the issue in his new book, 'Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves.' He explained that Neanderthals could be cloned by implanting DNA into an 'extremely adventurous female human.'

A reconstruction of a Neanderthal and its baby at the Museum for Prehistory in southern France.

 

A Harvard genetics professor says he’s found a way to bring Neanderthals back from extinction.

He just needs an “extremely adventurous female human” to carry the clone baby, George Church writes in his new book, “Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves.”

“You have got a shot at anything where you have the DNA,” Church explained to German magazine Der Spiegel. “The limit for finding DNA fragments is probably around a million years.”

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It’s only been about 30,000 years since Neanderthals are thought to have died off, and scientists have discovered DNA fragments from the long-lost species in fossils in Europe.

In theory, the DNA could be assembled into an embryo, which could be planted inside a human — a very daring woman, Church said.

“However, the prerequisite would, of course, be that human cloning is acceptable to society,” he told Der Spiegel.

A "cohort" would have to be created to give the Neanderthal "some sense of identity," Church said.

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But experts question the plausibility scientists will ever get that far.

“I understand what George is saying,” Arthur Caplan, head of bioethics at NYU, told ABC News. “It’s interesting. But I don’t think it will ever happen.

“It lurches too close to exploitation. It rubs too closely as starting to turn into bringing somebody into existence just as an object of other people’s interest.”

Church, whose work includes DNA synthesis, says significant knowledge could be gained from cloning Neanderthals, humans' closest relatives.

“We know that they had a larger cranial size,” he said. “They could even be more intelligent than us. When the time comes to deal with an epidemic or getting off the planet or whatever, it’s conceivable that their way of thinking could be beneficial.”

In the interview, Church acknowledged the ethical and legal dilemma that comes with cloning, but noted that “laws can change.”

“My role is to determine what’s technologically feasible,” he said.



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Updated 6 Years ago
 

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