Frozen embryo technique could save dying species

Last Updated: Thu, Feb 07, 2013 09:20 hrs

Washington, Feb 7 (IANS) A technique that brought forth Klondike, a beagle-labrador retriever mix from a frozen embryo, could help preserve dying species such as the red wolf, say researchers.

The nine-month-old Klondike, unlike his canine cousins, is perhaps the world's first puppy born of a frozen embryo.

The dog's beagle mother was fertilized using artificial insemination. The resulting embryos were collected and frozen until Klondike's surrogate mother, also a beagle, was ready to receive the embryo.

Conducted by the researchers at the Cornell's Baker Institute for Animal Health and the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute, the process of freezing materials such as fertilized eggs - cryopreservation - provides researchers with a tool to repopulate endangered species.

Because dogs' cycle are able to sustain a pregnancy only once or twice a year, being able to freeze canine embryos is especially important to coordinate timing for transfer into the surrogates, according to a Cornell-Smithsonian statement.

"Reproduction in dogs is remarkably different than in other mammals," said Alex Travis, Baker faculty member and director of Cornell's campus-wide Centre for Wildlife Conservation.

This research is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health, Cornell's Baker Institute and the Smithsonian Institution, and is part of a new, joint programme to train the next generation of scientists to solve real world problems in conservation.

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