SAN FRANCISCO, June 11, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Pembient, in partnership with New Harvest and the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine (ISCRM) at the University of Washington, announced today a crowdfunding campaign to sequence the genome of the black rhinoceros and release it to the public domain. This campaign will run for the next 30 days on Experiment.com, a crowdfunding platform for scientific research, and may be accessed at:
The black rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis) is a critically endangered species. It is estimated that there are only 5,055 still alive in the wild. Three of the eight original black rhinoceros subspecies are already extinct. Unfortunately, a thriving illegal trade in rhinoceros horn threatens the remaining subspecies. While efforts to protect the black rhinoceros continue, understanding its fundamental biology, as well as the care, breeding, and tracking of this species, are hampered by the lack of a complete genome. The Black Rhinoceros Genome Project seeks to rectify this problem.
Beyond initially producing a reference genome for the black rhinoceros, the project will eventually sequence each subspecies of black rhinoceros in order to understand the extent of genetic divergence within and between rhinoceros species. This work may assist future researchers looking at ways to bring the three currently extinct black rhinoceros subspecies back to life.
"This is an exciting time for stem cells and bioengineering. We're on the cusp of unlocking the secrets of the black rhinoceros and using this information to better understand and conserve this majestic species," said Dr. Charles Murry, Director of ISCRM and principal investigator for the project.
The project's sequencing will be conducted through the laboratory of Dr. Jay Shendure in the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. All data produced by the project will be made publicly available.
About the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine
Since 2006, ISCRM at the University of Washington has worked to understand the mechanisms that underlie stem cells from multiple species, how they form tissues and repair the body after injury. ISCRM has a major focus on genomics and tissue engineering. It has recently begun to use stem cell approaches to study genetically based diseases such as cardiomyopathies.
About New Harvest
New Harvest is a 501(c)(3) non-profit promoting innovative technologies that address the growing environmental and ethical concerns associated with society's dependence on animals for animal products. New Harvest is most recognized for their work in advancing meat, milk and eggs produced in cell culture. By producing these products this way, food production can be less resource intensive, more environmentally friendly, less prone to contamination, and more humane. For more information about New Harvest, visit http://www.new-harvest.org/.
Pembient is leveraging advances in biotechnology to fabricate wildlife products, such as rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory, at prices below the levels that induce poaching. Pembient's mission is to replace the illegal wildlife trade, a $20B black market, the fourth largest after drug, arms, and human trafficking, with sustainable commerce. To sign up for Pembient's newsletter, go to http://www.pembient.com/.