BresaGen announces Australia's first cloned pig
Australian biotechnology company, BresaGen Limited, in association with the Immunology Research Centre, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne, has made a major breakthrough in cloning technology.
Australia's first cloned pig is now five weeks old, has been weaned and is healthy and growing normally.
It is anticipated that the new cloning technology will have a major impact in guarding against the outbreak of animal disease and in the area of xenotransplantation - the use of animal organs for transplantation into humans.
The most obvious commercial use for cloning technology is the improved breeding of livestock. Cloning allows breeders to take a small number of animals with superior genetics and rapidly produce more.
BresaGen Program Leader Dr Mark Nottle described it as "a very good result considering that this was the first transfer using our new method".
"In addition to gains in productivity, cloning could be very useful in guarding against an outbreak of diseases such as Foot and Mouth," Dr Nottle said. "Once an animal is identified as having natural resistance to a particular disease, a breeding company would use cloning to produce large numbers of animals. These animals would be supplied to farmers as breeding stock for new herds."
The pig was cloned from cells which had been frozen in liquid nitrogen for more than two years. This makes the technology useful in conserving valuable and rare genetics. Simply by freezing skin cells it should be possible to preserve the genetics of valuable animals.
The St. Vincent's Hospital/Bresagen research program in xenotransplantation has been funded by an R&D Syndicate and by Nextran Inc a subsidiary of Baxter Healthcare. Commercialisation of this technology will lead to significant royalty streams flowing to BresaGen.
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