Malaysian Officials Hope To Bring Back Extinct Sumatran Rhinos Using Cool Science

Options include developing stem cells and cloning.

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Malaysian Officials Hope To Bring Back Extinct Sumatran Rhinos Using Cool Science
If it works out, it's going to be a heck of an achievement!

Most of you know that we lost our last Sumatran rhino, Iman, last year.

The last to leave.

Determined to revive the species in Malaysia, scientist here are now looking to use tissues and cells from past rhinos to do just that.

According to a report by CNN, a team from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) plan to use stem cell technology and in-vitro fertilization to make the dream a reality.

One of the lead researchers, Dr Muhammad Lokman Md Isa said that the process which is similar to cloning hopes to see the birth of a new baby rhino by using cells from old rhinos that have died. 

Stem cells to the rescue.

"Before the three rhinos (the last survivors in Malaysia) died, we got their cells, and the cells are still alive -- which is why I'm quite confident."

"If you don't have any cells, or if we just had tissue that aren't living anymore, we can't do anything with that. We can only put it in a book or museum. But now we have a living thing that we can use," said Dr Lokman.

Several options

But how exactly do they plan to do this?

Well, what the scientists will do is take the cells that they extracted from the heart, lung, brain, kidney and stem cells of past rhinos and use them to generate a whole new one.

According to the report, there are two ways that they could do this. 

There is still hope.

The first way is to develop the stem cells themselves into an egg and sperm and create an embryo which will be implanted into a surrogate rhino.

The second option is to take the egg of a surrogate rhino, remove the nucleus and join it with a Sumatran rhino's somatic cell.

This process was used for Dolly, the sheep that was successfully cloned in 1996.

If Dolly can do it...

It sounds like the team has got their work cut out for them and we really hope that one of these measures work. 

If it does, it could be one way of reviving animal populations in our jungles and in other parts of the world.

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