Womb for Rent: Harvard Scientist Seeks Womb for Ancient Neanderthal DNA

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By Vittorio Hernandez | January 23, 2013 9:05 AM EST

Fifteen minutes of fame awaits an adventurous woman willing to lend her womb for scientific purposes. George Church, a genetics professor at Harvard School of Medicine, is seeking for that woman to create the first Neanderthal baby from DNA extracted from ancient fossils.

Mr Church told the German magazine Der Spiegel that he has gathered enough DNA from fossil bones to reconstruct the DNA of the Neanderthals, a human species that became extinct 33,000 years ago.

With a willing human female surrogate, Mr Church plans to introduce parts of the Neanderthal genome to human stem cells and clone them to create a foetus which will then be implanted in the woman.

He is one of the scientists behind the Human Genome Project and is well respected in the field of genetics.

One of the reasons why he wanted to come up with a Neanderthal baby is based on his theory that Neanderthals may think different than present human beings due to their larger cranial size which could mean they may have higher intelligence.

He added their way of thinking may become beneficial when the time comes for the world to deal with an epidemic or to leave the planet, but his main aim is to increase diversity.

However, Mr Church said there is little chance to recreate old human species or dinosaurs since the age limit of useful DNA is about one million years.

In 2009, scientists cloned an extinct subspecies of an ibex, but it died immediately. Other savants, however, pointed out that for every successful clone like Dolly the sheep, there are several failures. In the case of Dolly, there were other unsuccessful cloned sheep embryos.

Those that do survive to term often suffer from health problems due to copying errors in their DNAs.

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