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Harvard scientist George Church, a pioneer of both DNA sequencing and gene editing, has been talking in the press for more than a decade about the possibility of bringing the extinct woolly mammoth back to life. It’s been the subject of magazine articles, books, and, of course, a TEDx talk.

Now, it is the focus of a company. Church and his colleagues announced Monday that Colossal, a startup focused on “de-extinction,” had raised $15 million for a project that involves CRISPR technology to genetically reengineer Asian elephants to be more like mammoths. Billionaire Thomas Tull, best known for founding a film production company that backed the “Batman” movies and “Inception,” and Silicon Valley venture capital firms Breyer Capital and Draper Associates are among the backers.


“Very little has happened directly on the mammoth because we’ve had so little funding,” Church told STAT in an interview. “We had less than $10,000 a year, which is unimaginably small for this kind of project.”

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