A supplied video screenshot shows the last-known surviving Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine, in Hobart, 1933 (AAP Image/Supplied by the National Film and Sound Archive, David Fleay)
Hollywood stars Chris and Luke Hemsworth have thrown their money behind a Melbourne project to bring the extinct Tasmanian tiger back to life.
The University of Melbourne earlier this year launched a research lab to ‘de-extinct’ the thylacine, to give the marsupial its official name, following a $5 million philanthropic donation.
Its goal moved one step closer after the university on Wednesday partnered with US-based genetic engineering company Colossal Biosciences.
The partnership will allow the Melbourne research team to access more DNA editing technology and a group of world-leading scientists, research leader Dr Andrew Pask said.
The Hemsworths are among the investors backing the Melbourne project.
“Our family remains dedicated to supporting conservationist efforts around the world, and protecting Australia’s biodiversity is a high priority,” Thor star Chris Hemsworth said in a statement.
“The Tassie Tiger’s extinction had a devastating effect on our ecosystem and we are thrilled to support the revolutionary conservation efforts that are being made by Dr Pask and the entire Colossal team.”
The Melbourne research lab is looking to tailor reproductive technologies such as IVF to Australian marsupials, while Colossal will use its gene-editing technology to reproduce thylacine DNA.
“We can now take the giant leaps to conserve Australia’s threatened marsupials and take on the grand challenge of de-extincting animals we had lost,” Dr Pask said in a statement.
“A lot of the challenges with our efforts can be overcome by an army of scientists working on the same problems simultaneously, conducting and collaborating on the many experiments to accelerate discoveries.
“With this partnership, we will now have the army we need to make this happen.”
© AAP 2022