French laboratory clones American horse

12th July 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, July 12, 2006 (AFP) - Gene scientists on Wednesday announced the birth of a cloned horse - son of a prizewinning showjumper - who they hope will pass down the genes of his sire to future generations of champions.

PARIS, July 12, 2006 (AFP) - Gene scientists on Wednesday announced the birth of a cloned horse - son of a prizewinning showjumper - who they hope will pass down the genes of his sire to future generations of champions.

The foal, named E.T. Cryozootech-Stallion, was born on June 2 at College Station in the US state of Texas, the French laboratory Cryozootech said in a statement. He is in good health, Cryozootech founder Eric Palmer told AFP by telephone.

The foal's sire, E.T., a 20-year-old stallion who has won two world showjumping cups, was castrated at age three as is common practice for jumpers, and was therefore incapable of reproducing normally.

In cooperation with E.T.'s Austrian jockey Hugo Simon, scientists performed a biopsy on the stallion in 2003, removing cells which were then kept frozen in liquid nitrogen at minus 196 degrees Celsius (minus 320 Fahrenheit).

As a genetically identical copy of his sire, the cloned foal will be used exclusively for breeding purposes from age three onwards, said Cryozootech.

He is to be raised at Cryozootech's stables in France from the autumn and could produce his first descendants through artificial insemination from 2009, the statement said.

The French laboratory has produced two previous equine clones, including one of the 1994 and 1996 world endurance champion Pieraz. The world's first cloned horse, Prometea, was born in 2003.

Since 2003, equine cloning has taken off in the United States, where the practice is widespread for pigs and bovines. One US firm, Viagen, recently announced it was capable of producing 100 horse clones per year.

But thoroughbred racing rules do not allow artificial insemination, cloning or any kind of fertility treatment, to produce racehorses.

Cryozootech has a gene bank from 49 horses, all exceptional in disciplines such as endurance, jumping and dressage - all of which use geldings, horses whose testicles are removed at an early age - to be used for reproduction.

Two more equine clones are due to be born shortly in its laboratories, one this summer - son of the champion high-jumper Calvaro V - and another to be cloned next year from the dressage champion Rusty, it said Wednesday.

For each cloned horse, Cryozootech issues subscriptions - 200 in the case of E.T.'s clone - worth EUR 5,000 (6,360 dollars), which give holders the right to use the stallion for reproduction.

Scientists say that the cloning of complex multi-celled organisms is still at an early technological stage.

Cloning entails taking an egg, removing its nucleus, and replacing it with the nucleus of any cell taken from the donor animal.

This nucleus contains almost all of the donor's genetic code, so if the egg is then transplanted into a surrogate and results in a birth, the offspring should be a genetic duplicate in all but neglible detail.

However, most cloning attempts result in miscarriages because the egg fails to develop properly.

In addition, cloned mammals face a high risk of falling sick or dying young, apparently because of flaws inflicted to the genetic code during the cloning process.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French News

0 Comments To This Article