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An alternative pregnancy

Cloning accelerates the research for the conservation of genetic resources

From a normal birth, weighing 50 kg, the first cloned animal in Brazil, the calf Vitoria, was born on the 17th of March and is growing without any problems on the ranch of the Brazilian Company of Agriculture and Cattle Research (Embrapa) close to Brasilia. It might be the case of celebrating the mastering of a technique, nuclear transference, and the beginning of a new phase in the research for genetic improvement and of the conservation of genetic resources on their way to extinction. It is estimated that cloning will help to carry out in a year the work that normally takes 12 years.

The veterinarian Dr. Rudolfo Rumpf, coordinator of the project of biotechnology for the reproduction of animals of Embrapa, examines the situation from the historical point of view. For him, Vitoria has more value scientifically and biologically than for production. “We still have a lot of work to do.” he says. His team produced 24 embryos and transferred 15 of them to “rented mothers” and only one pregnancy took place.

Vitoria comes from the genetic material of an embryo of five days, collected from a donor of a simental breed. In 1997, a more complex pathway led to the sheep “Dolly”, conceived from the cells of an adult animal. “After fertilization in a test tube, we constructed an embryo in the laboratory.” relates Dr. Rumpf. In this way it re-enforces, according to him, the importance of the interaction of techniques. The embryo used in the experiment as the source of the donor of the nucleus was generated by the classical transference of embryos.

The second one
“There has been a notable advance in this area in Brazil over the last few years.” says Dr. Rumpf, based on the sum of the efforts of the laboratories that work with nuclear transference in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Rio Grande do Sul and Pará. The first Brazilian cloning obtained through a technique very similar to that of Dolly could shortly be born. On the ranch on which Vitoria was born, the pregnancy of a calf cloned from the cells of the ear of a cow is going on.