Biotechnology of reproduction has always played an important role in the field of zootechnical research in order to improve livestock production and reproductive efficiency. In recent years the impact of these technologies has been remarkable, especially in cattle, from the spreading of artificial insemination and estrus synchronization methods to the modern techniques of embryo transfer and in vitro embryo production.

A large amount of research has been carried out by Avantea as shown by numerous publications. In particular Avantea has contributed to the development of the in vitro embryos production techniques in bovine that are now applied in Italy and in all those countries where livestock production is more advanced. With regards to buffalos and equine, Avantea still maintains a leading position in Europe for its research activity carried out in reproductive biotechnology.

In addition to this ongoing work on optimizing the in vitro production techniques, Avantea is carrying out a research program related to bovine infertility, an increasing problem in advanced livestock countries.

Another reserach area of Avantea is animal cloning (which allows to obtain identical copies of a particulary interesting animal). This technology can find its application for endangered breeds or it may also represent a kind of insurance for all those animals of exceptional value.


Avantea research activity in the livestock sector, is focusing on the infertility in the bovine and buffaloes species. Avantea is partner of several national and international projects (Fecund) aiming at the genetic improvement in those two species through the application of reproductive biotechnologies linked to the modern genomic and proteomics techniques.

The new selection methods using genomic and new reproductive biotechnologies in bovine and buffaloes have been discussed during the two seminars organised by Avantea: in October 2012 in collaboration with AIA LGS, Parco Tecnologico Padano and with the support of Lombardy Region in occasion of the 67th International Dairy Cattle Show in Cremona (for more info, follow this link) and in May 2009 during the event dedicated to the Ovum Pick Up technique combined to the use of sexed semen within selection programs (watch the videos recorded during the event).

With regard to bovine, Avantea carried out several research projects, among these Embryofert and Uterofert, both funded by Lombardy Region. Within these two projects, it has been shown that both an high level of consanguinity amongst cattle and the presence of uterine pathology are two important factors that can cause ipofertility in dairy cattle.

With reference to buffaloes, Avantea has been involved in a national research project on innovative reproductive biotecnologies and in particular on the application of Ovum Pick Up technique to promote the Italian Mediterranean Buffalo.


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Somatic cloning technique, better known as somatic cell nuclear transfer, is the procedure by which the nucleus of a cell (obtained from a skin biopsy of the animal to be cloned) is transferred into an oocyte deprived of its nucleus. In this way we obtain an embryo that, transplanted into the uterus of a recipient female, will develop into an animal genetically identical to the donor cell's skin. The cloning allows to produce genetic copies of animals of particular interest.

In addition, cloning may be associated with genetic engineering where the cells used for cloning have been genetically modified. In this case the cloned animal will bring the same genetic modification, and will then be a transgenic animal. This procedure is currently the most widely used to generate large animal models for biomedical research.

After the birth of the first cloned mammal from a somatic cell, Dolly the sheep in 1996, Avantea developed the cloning technique by adapting it to the biological characteristics of the various animal species, generating some of the "first clone" in cattle, horses and swine.

In 1999 at the Laboratory of Reproductive Technology the world's first clone of an adult bull was born: Galileo, a genetic copy of the famous American bull Zoldo. Galileo is not only the first cloned bull but it is also the first clone obtained using lymphocytes, white blood cells, collected from Zoldo. This technique was tested to demonstrate the ability to clone animals also through a simple blood sample.


In 2003 Avantea obtained the world record of the first cloned horse, the filly Prometea. This achievement was reported in the scientific paper published in Nature that makes it famous to the scientific community. Prometea is not only the first cloned horse but it also has a second characteristic that makes it unique: it was born from the same horse from which the cells used in nuclear transfer were derived.

In 2005, Avantea obtained the first cloned pigs in Italy. Since then, the research activity is focusing on the pig cloning mainly used in biomedical research.


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