DER SPIEGEL (Germany), NEWS.COM.AU (Australia)
BOSTON - George Church, a Harvard School of Medicine genetics professor, believes that he can create a Neanderthal baby. All he needs is an “adventurous female.”
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George Church at TED 2010. Photo: Life, Synthetic Life!
He told German magazineDer Spiegel: “I have already managed to attract enough DNA from fossil bones to reconstruct the DNA of the largely extinct species. Now, I just need an adventurous female human.”
In the interview, the geneticist stated “Neanderthals might think differently than we do. We know that they had a larger cranial size. They could even be more intelligent than us. When the time comes to deal with an epidemic or getting off the planet or whatever, it's conceivable that their way of thinking could be beneficial.”
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Forensic reconstruction of Neanderthals. Photo: Cicero Moraes
The technique of creating viable cells to reproduce involves artificially creating DNA from fossilized material and introducing this into human stem cell lines. Church discusses the idea in his latest book, Regenesis: How Synthetic Biology Will Reinvent Nature and Ourselves.
If the process is successful, says news.com.au, these Neanderthal humans could live to the old age of 120 (or even 150) and be immune to viruses as well as resistant to cancer. Commonly thought of as primitive cave dwellers, new research has found that Neanderthals were more like us than we had previously thought and may even have interbred with Homo sapiens.
A topic that often causes much discussion, the ethics of genetic engineering is something Church believes should be openly discussed by everyone: “I think we should be quite cautious, but that doesn't mean that we should put moratoriums on new technologies. It means licensing, surveillance, doing tests. And we actually must make sure the public is educated about them. It would be great if all the politicians in the world were as technologically savvy as the average citizen is politically savvy.”
Neanderthal man & woman in Neanderthal museum, Germany. Photo: UNiesert