While it might sound overly ambitious, West says that his lab has actually developed most of the steps required to carry it out using skin cells gathered from an endangered Sumatran tiger and clouded leopard at a local zoo. The biggest hurdle isn't a lack of technology, but rather a lack of funding.
"This project is unusual. My lab is a stem cell lab, so we do a lot of different things. We develop stem cell therapies for stroke patients and traumatic brain injury patients. When you need funding for those kinds of endeavors, it is easy to find," said West. "But for these types of projects that we're talking about, using stem cells to protect endangered species, there's not a real good funding mechanism out there."
That being the case, West's team has launched a crowdfunding page, hoping to raise enough money from donors to see the project through.