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CRISPR: From Wolverine Claws to Mammoths

On his eponymous show, Stephen Colbert asks Harvard Medical School's George Church whether a genome-editing tool like CRISPR could be used to give him "Wolverine claws," referring to the X-Men character.

While Church says Colbert might be better off without such claws, he notes that the approach is being applied to combat malaria, HIV, and more. He adds that the technology had been developed from a bacterial system for use in plant, animal, and human cells to cut and replace specific stretches of DNA.

"Aren’t you playing God or are you just growing his beard?" Colbert then asks.

Church notes that they aren't even in "that league" and are rather working as engineers.

He also tells Colbert that some progress has been made toward bringing the woolly mammoth back by editing elephant genomes using CRISPR and related tools.

"Please grow one and bring it back on the show," Colbert says. "That would be fun. That's serious ratings."