Extinct woolly mammoth to be cloned

March 13, 2012 at 3:28 PM

SEOUL, March 13 (UPI) -- A South Korean research laboratory says it plans to work with a Russian university to clone a woolly mammoth, a species extinct for 4,500 years.

The Sooam Biotech Research Foundation has signed a research agreement with Russia's North-Eastern Federal University to clone the creature from frozen remains found in Siberia, Fox News reported Tuesday.

The researchers said they would replace the nuclei of egg cells from a modern Indian elephant with those taken from the mammoth's cells, which could produce embryos with mammoth DNA.

If successful, the embryos would be implanted into the elephant for a 22-month pregnancy intended to produce a live mammoth, they said.

The leader of the Sooam lab, Hwang Woo-suk, is a deeply controversial figure in South Korean science, gaining fame in 2004 when he claimed to have created human stem cells from a cloned embryo.

Accused of violating medical ethics by using eggs from his own researchers and falsifying data, he was given a two-year suspended sentence for misuse of research funds and ethical lapses, Fox News reported.

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