Huia cloned back to life?

In July, the Maori tribe Ngati Huia agreed to support the cloning of the Huia, an extinct bird that once flourished in New Zealand. The decision was made during a conference held in Hastings where scientists and ethicists considered the associated technical and ethical issues. The conference was sponsored by cyberuni.org, a California-based start-up that intends to be "the world's university," providing courses and assessment materials to tertiary "host" institutions. "Far more important than sorting out the hurdles that face the project technically," says cyberuni.org co-founder Michael Cullen, "the maori tribe supports attempts to clone the Huia, which is of great cultural importance to them." Cullen says the next step is to look for whole cells or nuclei in the tendon and bones of stuffed specimen birds, then, using the same technique that produced Dolly, transfer the nuclear material into a cell of a magpie, culture an embryo, and implant for gestation. If whole cells can't be found, ambitious attempts will be made to assemble a complete set of genetic material from recoverable fragments. Cyberuni.org will contribute US$100,000 funds towards costs of cloning, which will be carried out at the University of Otago. "It's the kind of activity that we think cyberuni should be involved in", says Cullen. The total project could take five years.

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Dorey, E. Huia cloned back to life?. Nat Biotechnol 17, 736 (1999). https://doi.org/10.1038/11628

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