Scientists want to resurrect the woolly mammoth. They just got $15 million to make it happen

A new biosciences and genetics company, Colossal, has raised $15 million to bring back the woolly mammoth from extinction. This model mammoth is on display in France.

(CNN)Bringing extinct creatures back to life is the lifeblood of science fiction. At its most tantalizing, think Jurassic Park and its stable of dinosaurs.

Advances in genetics, however, are making resurrecting lost animals a tangible prospect. Scientists have already cloned endangered animals and can sequence DNA extracted from the bones and carcasses of long-dead, extinct animals.
Geneticists, led by Harvard Medical School's George Church, aim to bring the woolly mammoth, which disappeared 4,000 years ago, back to life, imagining a future where the tusked ice age giant is restored to its natural habitat.
    The efforts got a major boost on Monday with the announcement of a $15 million investment.
      Proponents say bringing back the mammoth in an altered form could help restore the fragile Arctic tundra ecosystem, combat the climate crisis, and preserve the endangered Asian elephant, to whom the woolly mammoth is most closely related. However, it's a bold plan fraught with ethical issues.
      The goal isn't to clone a mammoth -- the DNA that scientists have managed to extract from woolly mammoth remains frozen in permafrost is far too fragmented and degraded -- but to create, through genetic engineering, a living, walking elephant-mammoth hybrid that would be visually indistinguishable from its extinct forerunner.
      "Our goal is to have our first calves in the next four to six years," said tech entrepreneur Ben Lamm, who with Church has cofounded Colossal, a bioscience and genetics company to back the project.
        George Church, professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School, spoke onstage during The New Yorker TechFest 2016 in New York City.

        'Now we can actually do it'

        The new investment and focus brought by Lamm and his investors marks a major step forward, said Church, the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.
        "Up until 2021, it has been kind of a backburner project, frankly. ... but now we can actually do it," Church said.
        "This is going to change everything."
        Church has been at the cutting edge of genomics, including the use of CRISPR, the revolutionary gene editing tool that has been described as rewriting the code of life, to alter the characteristics of living species. His work creating pigs whose organs are compatible with the human body means a kidney for a patient in desperate need of a transplant might one day come from a swine.
        "We had to make a lot of (genetic) changes, 42 so far to make them human compatible. And in that case we have very healthy pigs that are breeding and donating organs for preclinical trials at Massachusetts General Hospital," he said.
        "With the elephant, it's a different goal but it's a similar number of changes."
        The research team has