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Woolly Mammoth Patents (Cell Crunch #53)
Plus: Theranos on the big screen and pig organ transplants.
Déjà vu is in full swing this week, as the Theranos story returns to Hulu for a limited series and nightmares of woolly mammoths and patent fights return to my Twitter feed.
As always, thanks for reading.
The OncoMouse was the first patented, living animal. Designed to be more susceptible to cancer, its genetic tweaks were designed by Philip Leder and Timothy Stewart, molecular biologists at Harvard University. The OncoMouse was patented in 1988 and Harvard transferred that patent to DuPont.
Is a similar future in store for the woolly mammoth? George Church’s group, also at Harvard, has been trying to resurrect a woolly mammoth for what feels like decades. He co-founded a startup, called Colossal, for exactly that purpose; the company’s goal is “to resurrect a woolly mammoth within the next six years,” mainly by reconstructing a woolly mammoth genome with modern engineering methods and transplanting a modified embryo into an elephant, which would then carry the mammoth to term.
Colossal CEO, Ben Lamm, “is confident that a mammoth is patentable.” But what will that mean for other de-extinction efforts?
Read more at WIRED.
Theranos on Hulu
Hulu is releasing a limited series about the Theranos story, starring Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes. It series follows Holmes as she is admitted to Stanford, drops out of college, founds Theranos, raises $900 million from investors, becomes the youngest self-made female billionaire and, one must assume, is found guilty on three counts of wire fraud and another count for conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Holmes has not been sentenced, but faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
The Hulu series is based on an Emmy-nominated podcast, from 2019, called “The Dropout.” The new series will premiere March 3rd.
Read more at Ars Technica.
A forthcoming book from futurist Amy Webb and geneticist Andrew Hessel grapples with existential questions about what a future built using bioengineering might look like, how it could happen, and the ethical questions that need to be considered, discussed, overcome.
I haven’t read it. But, hey, if you see this (Amy or Andrew), send me a copy and I’ll write a review.
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The fall of Eric Lander marks … an end to a ‘big ego’ era? Read more at STAT.
Genome-editing company, Editas, unexpectedly fires Chief Medical Officer. Read more at Fierce Biotech.
The appetite for SPACs — a financial tool to ease the burden of turning private companies public — seems to be dwindling. Read more at Fierce Biotech.
Ya like pigs? Ya like organs? David Cooper, a surgeon, thinks genetically-engineered pigs will mark a new dawn in human organ transplants. Read more at New Scientist.