Scientists in Germany Draft Neanderthal Genome.
By NICHOLAS WADE
Published: February 12, 2009
Possessing the Neanderthal genome raises the possibility of bringing Neanderthals back to life. Dr. George Church, a leading genome researcher at the Harvard Medical School, said Thursday that a Neanderthal could be brought to life with present technology for about $30 million.
When the full Neanderthal genome is in hand, could it be made to produce the living creature its information specifies? Ethical considerations aside, Dr. Pääbo said, Neanderthals could not be generated with existing technology. Dr. Church of Harvard disagreed. He said he would start with the human genome, which is highly similar to that of Neanderthals, and change the few DNA units required to convert it into the Neanderthal version.
This could be done, he said, by splitting the human genome into 30,000 chunks about 100,000 DNA units in length. Each chunk would be inserted into bacteria and converted to the Neanderthal equivalent by changing the few DNA units in which the two species differ. The changed lengths of DNA would then be reassembled into a full Neanderthal genome. To avoid ethical problems, this genome would be inserted not into a human cell but into a chimpanzee cell.
Dr. Church acknowledged that ethical views on such an experiment would vary widely. But bringing a Neanderthal to birth, he said, would satisfy the human desire to communicate with other intelligences.