Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA. His ambitious plan requires a human volunteer willing to allow the DNA to be put into stem cells, then a human embryo.
They’re usually thought of as a brutish, primitive species.
So what woman would want to give birth to a Neanderthal baby?
Yet this incredible scenario is the plan of one of the world’s leading geneticists, who is seeking a volunteer to help bring man’s long-extinct close relative back to life.
Professor George Church of Harvard Medical School believes he can reconstruct Neanderthal DNA and resurrect the species which became extinct 33,000 years ago.
His scheme is reminiscent of Jurassic Park but, while in the film dinosaurs were created in a laboratory, Professor Church’s ambitious plan requires a human volunteer.
He said his analysis of Neanderthal genetic code using samples from bones is complete enough to reconstruct their DNA.
He said: “Now I need an adventurous female human… It depends on a hell of a lot of things, but I think it can be done.”
Professor Church’s plan would begin by artificially creating Neanderthal DNA based on genetic code found in fossil remains. He would put this DNA into stem cells.
These would be injected into cells from a human embryo in the early stages of life.
It is thought that the stem cells would steer the development of the hybrid embryo on Neanderthal lines, rather than human ones.
After growing in the lab for a few days, the ‘neo-Neanderthal’ embryo would be implanted in the womb of a surrogate mother – the volunteer. Professor Church, 58, is a pioneer in synthetic biology who helped initiate the Human Genome Project that mapped our DNA.
He says Neanderthals were not the lumbering brutes of the stereotype, but highly intelligent. Their brains were roughly the same size as man’s, and they made primitive tools.
He believes his project could benefit mankind.