Cloning is a procedure by which the cell nucleus (obtained from a skin biopsy of the animal to be cloned) is transferred into an enucleated oocyte, thereby obtaining an individual genetically identical to the cell donor.
This technique requires the removal of a small skin biopsy from the subject to be cloned, from which a cell culture is obtained, composed of several million cells that can be stored in our Cells Bank. Furthermore, it is necessary that oocytes of animals of the same species of the donor are available. Having obtained both the cells and the oocytes, we can proceed, with the aid of a micromanipulator, to remove the nucleus of each oocyte and replace it with the nucleus of a cell of the donor.
The molecules present in the oocyte cytoplasm can “reprogram” the cell nucleus that has been inserted in such a way that the cell behaves as an embryonic cell.
From this procedure we obtain embryos that are genetically identical to the donor, which can be transplanted into the uterus of a female recipient who can carry out the pregnancy with the birth of a clone of the donor animal.
- to multiply genetically superior animals;
- to preserve endangered species;
- to generate the clone of a castrated male (this is the case of many horses for competitions which are castrated at young age and then became champions) in order to obtain the next generation and to continue the bloodlines that would otherwise be lost;
- even in the event of sudden death of important animals, the cloning technique can yield an identical copy as long as the skin biopsy is collected, kept refrigerated and delivered to our lab within a short time.
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In 2005, Pieraz-Cryozootech-Stallion, the clone of famous Pieraz, was generated by the Avantea team. As a castrated horse, Pieraz could not pass on its genetic heritage and give rise to a progeny. On the other hand, its clone, Pieraz-Cryozootech owned by Cryozootech S.A is a stallion with high fertility – this demonstrates the normality of an animal obtained by cloning – who has already sired many foals, which in turn have started their own reproductive career. In the pictures: Pieraz-Cryozootech (A), adult (B – photo by Cryozootech) and Pierazade, filly of Pieraz-Cryozootech already mother of a foal (C – photo by Cryozootech).
The animal breeding industry would benefit substantially from the cloning of genetically superior animals, especially with the support of the animal genetics industry, which would be able to clone the best sires for semen production. Our laboratory has pursued precisely this aim with the production of the bull Galileo, the first clone in the world of a progeny tested sire and afterwards with the cloning of Carol Prelude MTOTO ET TV G.M. **TL.