Researchers have cloned mice from freeze-dried skin cells, the Guardian reports. It adds that this approach may bolster conservation efforts.
A team from the University of Yamanashi in Japan freeze-dried somatic cells from mouse tails and stored them at -30 degrees Celsius for up to nine months. While the cells died and some DNA damage accumulated, the researchers were able to adapt the nuclear transfer procedure to generate healthy cloned mice, as they report in Nature Communications.
The team cautions, though, that the success rate was low, between 0.2 percent and 5.4 percent, and that mice generated in this way may have epigenetic abnormalities due to incomplete reprogramming.
Still, the work indicates that skin or other cells from endangered species could be freeze-dried as "insurance policies" that could then be cloned to restore lost genetic diversity, the Guardian says. "If these cells can be preserved without liquid nitrogen using freeze-drying technology, it allows genetic resources from around the world to be stored cheaply and safely," senior author Teruhiko Wakayama from Yamanashi tells it.