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Colossal Biosciences Raises $225 Million to Resurrect Extinct Species

Colossal Biosciences

Dr. Beth Shapiro, Ph.D. (Lead Paleogeneticist and Colossal Scientific Advisory Board Member) and Ben Lamm (Colossal Co-Founder and CEO). Image courtesy of Colossal Biosciences.

Colossal Biosciences, a firm that calls itself the world’s first “de-extinction company,” completed an oversubscribed $150M Series B financing round. You heard that right: the company wants to undo the extinctions of certain animals and Colossal has brought in $225 million to date to do just that.

Remember the Jurassic Park movies? They depicted a mad scientist who came up with a way to resurrect the dinosaurs by recreating them from DNA samples found frozen in Amber for millions of years. Well, no one here is planning on bringing back the dinosaur – at least not yet. But maybe Wooly mammoths.

Colossal was founded by emerging technology and software entrepreneur Ben Lamm and world-renowned geneticist and serial biotech entrepreneur George Church, Ph.D., and is the first to apply CRISPR technology for the purposes of species de-extinction. Colossal creates innovative technologies for species restoration, critically endangered species protection and the repopulation of critical ecosystems that support the continuation of life on Earth.

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Colossal already has a Woolly Mammoth de-extinction team which includes over 40 scientists working in three laboratories to” innovate across computational biology, cell and genome engineering, stem cell biology, embryology, protein engineering and assisted reproductive technologies.” Colossal and its collaborators have accomplished the following:

Sequenced and publicized two of the highest quality reference genomes to date for the African and Asian elephant
Became the first to artificially derive pluripotent stem cells in both Asian and African elephants, which are essential for in-vitro embryogenesis and gametogenesis
Refined and verified Colossal’s list of identified mammoth-specific genes as targets for editing through its computations biology spin-out, Form Bio
Built a leading embryology lab for endangered species work and started the process of refining protocols for elephant somatic cell nuclear transfer process
Parallelized multiplex editing workflows to generate over 20 edits in high impact genes associated with core cold adaptation mammoth phenotypes
Announced efforts to eradicate EEHV in elephants in partnership with Paul Ling Ph.D. and Baylor College of Medicine. Also, Colossal launched its partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks for the Mammoth in the Classroom initiative, the first-of-its-kind children’s education and research project focused on mammoths in Alaska

“The World Wildlife Fund found that in the last 50 years, Earth’s wildlife populations have plunged by an average of 69% at the hands of mankind,” said Ben Lamm, co-founder and CEO of Colossal. “By gathering the smartest minds across investing, genomics, conservation and synthetic biology, we have the opportunity to reverse human-inflicted biodiversity loss while developing technologies for both conservation and human healthcare. We are honored to be backed by a dedicated and diverse group of investors and are excited to work to bring additional species back to the planet.”

Beth Shapiro Ph.D., Colossal Scientific Advisory Board member and lead paleogeneticist noted, “The Dodo is a prime example of a species that became extinct because we – people – made it impossible for them to survive in their native habitat. Having focused on genetic advancements in ancient DNA for my entire career and as the first to fully sequence the Dodo’s genome, I am thrilled to collaborate with Colossal and the people of Mauritius on the de-extinction and eventual re-wilding of the Dodo. I particularly look forward to furthering genetic rescue tools focused on birds and avian conservation.”

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