[Paleopsych] New Scientist: First clone of champion racehorse revealed

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Mon Apr 18 14:38:39 UTC 2005

First clone of champion racehorse revealed
      * 11:59 14 April 2005
      * NewScientist.com news service
      * Andy Coghlan

    The cloned foal, pictured with her mother, was the only live birth
    from 34 implanted embryos (Image: Giovanna Lazzari)
    The cloned foal, pictured with her mother, was the only live birth
    from 34 implanted embryos (Image: Giovanna Lazzari)

    The first ever clone of a champion racehorse was unveiled on Thursday
    at a press conference in Italy. The foal was cloned from a skin cell
    of Pieraz, a multiple world champion in equine endurance races of up
    to 50 kilometres.

    Unlike conventional horseracing, which bans the use of non-natural
    methods of breeding, including cloning, endurance racing is among the
    half dozen or so equine sports which would allow cloned competitors.
    Others include dressage, showjumping, three-day-eventing, polo and
    carriage horse racing.

    It is the first time an elite racehorse has been cloned, and comes two
    years after the appearance of Prometea, the first and only other
    cloned horse.

    Prometea was just a scientific experiment and, scientifically, theres
    not much new about the new clone, says Cesare Galli, who produced both
    horses at the University of Bologna in Cremona, Italy. But from an
    industry viewpoint, the new horse is the real thing.

Recreating testicles

    Like most endurance racehorses, Pieraz was castrated young and so
    cannot breed. The idea of cloning him was to recreate his testicles
    for breeding purposes, says Eric Palmer of Cryozootech, a company
    based in Paris, France, which supported Gallis latest cloning work.

    The plan is to make this horse a stallion, says Palmer, and the clone
    will be mature enough to breed within two years. But although the new
    clone is Pierazs genetic twin, he says there is no guarantee that it
    will perform as well as the champion racehorse. Environmental factors
    could be crucial.

    The clone is the first of many planned by Cryozootech. We have samples
    of 33 horses in our genetic bank, says Palmer. They include samples
    from ET, the worlds top showjumping horse, and from Rusty, a top
    dressage horse.

    Galli created Prometea and the latest clone using the same technique -
    implanting skin cells into eggs emptied of their own genetic material.
    Galli had improved upon his success rate, with 15% of the embryos
    created suitable for transplant this time, compared to just 3% with

    But the foal was the only live birth from the 34 embryos Galli
    implanted into 12 foster mothers, three of which became pregnant.
    Galli says the foal is healthy: It was born in February and has been
    very well.

Political capitulation

    A team in the UK, which recently received government approval to clone
    horses for scientific purposes, welcomed the Italian breakthrough but
    is frustrated that the British government will not allow cloning for
    commercial purposes.

    William Allen, head of the team at the Equine Research Unit in
    Newmarket, UK, accuses the government of capitulating to animal
    welfare groups. Animal Aid, a British-based animal welfare lobby
    group, opposes cloning of horses on the grounds that cloned embryos
    are often deformed or grossly over-sized, and so should not be created
    for what they argue is a leisure activity.

    Allen hopes that the government will change its mind but in the
    meantime is planning two non-commercial research experiments.

    In one, he hopes to take DNA from a mare and then implant the cloned
    embryo into the same horse. In another, he plans to create and implant
    donkey-horse hybrid embryos to see how much DNA from the egg ends up
    in the clone. This could be important if it disrupts the transplanted
    nuclear DNA and thus the traits of an elite horse.

Related Articles

      * [53]World's first cloned horse is born
      * 06 August 2003
      * [54]Mule birth marks equine cloning breakthrough
      * 29 May 2003
      * [55]Cloners press on despite UK nay
      * 15 May 2004
      * [56]Search New Scientist
      * [57]Contact us

Web Links

      * [58]University of Bologna, Cremona
      * [59]Cryozootech
      * [60]Newmarket Equine Fertility Unit
      * [61]Jockey Club


   53. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn4026
   54. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=dn3780
   55. http://www.newscientist.com/article.ns?id=mg18224471.500
   56. http://www.newscientist.com/search.ns;jsessionid=BALLINODEEAG
   57. http://www.newscientist.com/contact.ns;jsessionid=BALLINODEEAG?recipient=dn
   58. http://www.ciz.it/
   59. http://www.cryozootech.com/
   60. http://www.any-uk-vet.co.uk/equine/
   61. http://www.thejockeyclub.co.uk/

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