March 20 - Like the plot of the blockbuster movie, Jurassic Park, an effort to revive an extinct species of frog is showing signs of success in a laboratory in Australia. Scientists at the University of Newcastle, part of the so-called Lazarus Project, have taken an important step in bringing the Gastric-brooding Frog back to life, by implanting its ''dead'' cell DNA into the eggs of a living frog relative. Rob Muir has more.
Dr John Clulow and his team from the Lazarus Project are trying to resurrect a frog, the Gastric-brooding frog, declared extinct in 1983. They're the DNA from frozen cell samples, and planting it inside the healthy eggs of a distant relative, the Great Barred Frog, and according to Professor Michael Mahony, it seems to be working. (SOUNDBITE)(English) PROFESSOR MICHAEL MAHONY, UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE SAYING: "We've come a long way. I suppose the most exciting thing is that we've actually seen an embryo grow through the first 24 hours of growth.' The Gastric-brooding frog was unusual. It would swallow its own eggs and keep them in its stomach where they would gestate. The adult would then give birth through its mouth. The reasons for the species' demise are unclear, but Lazarus Project scientists are optimistic they can bering it back. (SOUNDBITE)(English) DR JOHN CLULOW, UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE SAYING: "We've shown it through DNA profiling and DNA analysis that the genetic material that's developing in the cells of the new embryo are in fact from the extinct frog." There are still significant challenges to overcome, but if the Gastric-brooding frog can be reproduced the technology could be applied to other extinct species...and to the many other amphibian species at risk. (SOUNDBITE)(English) PROFESSOR MICHAEL MAHONY, UNIVERSITY OF NEWCASTLE SAYING: "We've got very close. But we've actually created a set of tools I call them, technical approaches, to prevent extinction or at least to buy an insurance policy for many other frogs faced with extinction." Most scientists agree that those species are now vulnerable because of human activity. The Lazarus Project aims to use science to bring them back.