With a colossal $150 million Series B financing round, Colossal Biosciences has taken a giant leap towards the de-extinction of the beloved Dodo – extinct since the 17th century. This remarkable move has sent shockwaves through the scientific community, and hopes are high that the iconic bird will soon be resurrected.
Colossal has just secured a substantial Series B round of funding, led by the United States Innovative Technology Fund (USIT) and supported by Breyer Capital, Bob Nelsen and Animal Capital. This brings the company’s total funding to date to an impressive $225 million, setting Colossal up for success and growth in the future.
In 2021, renowned geneticist George Church launched Colossal with an ambitious goal: resurrecting the woolly mammoth. This Dallas-based company is creating a cold-resistant elephant that features all of the iconic characteristics of the extinct mammoth species. It’s a remarkable endeavor, but if they succeed, it could revolutionize the field of genetic engineering and conservation.
In August 2022, the University of Melbourne announced a collaborative project to bring back the elusive thylacine, otherwise known as the Tasmanian Tiger, to the Australian marsupial population. This project has been in the works for years, and scientists are hopeful that this iconic species will be able to roam the Outback once again. With the help of the public, this project has the potential to bring back an animal that has been extinct for over 80 years.
Colossal is taking the groundbreaking step of de-extincting and re-wilding the iconic Dodo through its newly launched Avian Genomics Group. This pioneering effort will bring one of history’s most beloved birds back to life and into the wild, making a real and lasting impact on our planet.
The company is striving to bring the Dodo back from the brink of extinction by utilizing advanced genetic rescue techniques and its de-extinction toolkit. The Dodo, which was last seen in its native habitat of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean in 1662, was wiped out when its eggs were eaten by invasive species. Through this groundbreaking project, the Dodo will once again take flight in its ancestral home.
At the cutting edge of science, a new endeavor is being pursued to revolutionize the future of biology. Through the application of advanced technologies such as computational biology, cell and genome engineering, stem cell biology, embryology, protein engineering, and assisted reproductive technologies, this effort seeks to unlock the secrets of life and promote its continued advancement.
Beth Shapiro Ph.D., scientific advisory board member and lead paleogeneticist at Colossal, has uncovered the ancestral line of the Dodo bird. Through extensive research of the genomes of the Nicobar pigeon (currently living) and solitaire pigeon (now extinct), Shapiro and her team have been able to trace the Dodo’s lineage.
Using the power of computational biology, Colossal is taking on an ambitious project to create a new bird by using the data from existing pigeon genomes to identify the necessary edits. Through this endeavor, they seek to usher in a new era of avian engineering.
Bringing extinct species back to life is possible through a process known as cloning, or more specifically, somatic cell nuclear transfer. This technique involves taking genetic material from an extinct species and transferring it into a living organism, allowing the species to be ‘resurrected’.
The process of cloning begins by capturing an egg cell at the perfect stage of development, extracting the egg before it can be fertilized, and then replacing its genetic material with that from a somatic cell. With the cell proteins in the egg, the new genome can function and divide into the necessary tissue types, creating an entirely new animal. It is truly a remarkable process!
Avian gene editing is not a simple process. According to Dr. Shapiro, a complex set of new technologies will be needed to make it a reality. This means that the genetic manipulation of birds may still be a ways off.
We face a unique challenge: accessing egg cells at a crucial stage of development. To overcome this obstacle, we must devise an alternative route to success.
Colossal is making a bold leap from chickens to Dodo by editing primordial germ cells (PGCs) of eggs. The PGCs are responsible for migrating around the developing embryo and eventually becoming either sperm or eggs. According to Shapiro, this process is essential to meet the ambitious goal of restoring the Dodo, a formerly extinct and beloved species.
Colossal plans to take the primordial germ cells (PGCs) and edit them in a culture dish. Once the PGCs have been edited, they will be re-injected into an embryo at the same developmental stage, where they will develop into either edited sperm or edited eggs depending on the sex of the organism. This groundbreaking technique has the potential to revolutionize the field of gene editing.
Dr. Shapiro is hopeful that the germ cells he has harvested will become the next generation. By harvesting these cells, he is taking an important step towards ensuring the future of the species. With this process, he is helping to ensure that the species will have a chance to keep going.
The gestation period of an egg is just a mere 30 days, compared to the 22 months for an elephant – and it’s highly likely that we will see a proxy for the dodo before we witness the first calves! Ben Lamm, co-founder and CEO of Colossal, is excited about the prospect of this futuristic feat.
Tuesday brought a hefty financial boost for Colossal, but that wasn’t the only victory: they also made massive strides in the pursuit of resurrecting the extinct wooly mammoth and Tasmanian Tiger.
Colossal’s research teams have made remarkable progress in the fields of multiplex editing and large DNA cargo delivery, an advancement that is sure to further gene-editing research. All three initiatives are set to push the boundaries of what is possible, offering groundbreaking opportunities for the scientific and medical communities.
Unpacking the mystery of Primordial Germ Cells (PGCs) and applying multiplex editing to avians could open up a world of potential for gene editing in other species. By gaining a deeper understanding of PGCs, scientists could potentially unlock new applications in other species that could have far-reaching implications.