New 'Frozen Zoo' Could Be The Key To Saving Endangered Species

by
Cierra Bailey
The Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia is building a genetic storage center that could bring an end to animal extinction.

Extinction may become a thing of the past as the University of Georgia’s Regenerative Bioscience Center (RBC) is planning to build a “frozen zoo” to preserve the cells of endangered animals.

The "frozen zoo" will actually be a genetic storage center where cells taken from the skin of a sedated animal – in a noninvasive procedure – can be converted into stem cells by introducing a series of specialized reprogramming genes. Following the procedure, the stem cells would be made into sperm or eggs, CNN reports.

Read More: Stem Cell Op May 'Restore Sperm'

This groundbreaking idea came from RBC director Steven Stice and animal and dairy science assistant professor Franklin West.

"I'm very certain that it's going to work," West reportedly told CNN.

If West is right, other research facilities will undoubtedly follow suit ... just imagine a world without extinction. Animal lovers rejoice! 

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The RBC has faith in their plan because sperm has already been created from pig stem cells. In the frozen zoo, they plan to start off with big cats because scientists already have a strong understanding of their biological makeup.

The cells waiting to be programmed into stem cells are to be kept in tanks of liquid nitrogen. This method will replace the often used technique of mating siblings to breed endangered species.

The research team for the frozen zoo has set up a crowdfunding page through their GeorgiaFunder portal to get donations. This form of fundraising allows for more transparency and engagement with the general public, according to the RBC’s marketing and development coordinator Charlene Betourney. 

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