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A&M first to clone foal from live mare eggs

Special to the Battalion

Published: Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 23:07

Mouse

Courtesy photo

Cloned foal Mouse meets his genetic parent, Marc. Mouse is a Lippizan, so his fur will change to a lighter color as he matures.

Mouse

Courtesy Photo

Mouse got his name because of the research that made his birth possible.

Researchers from the Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences have once again made headlines with the successful delivery of a foal cloned using egg cells from a live mare. The cells used to create the clone make it the latest in a number of cloning firsts achieved by the University.

The birth of the foal was the result of two years of work by the lab of equine reproduction expert, Katrin Hinrichs, who created the first cloned horse in North America with her lab in 2005.

"This is actually our first foal produced using oocytes, or egg cells, from live mares," said Hinrichs, professor in the Department of Veterinary Physiology and Pharmacology. "We used the cells for the cloning process, which made it difficult, as we had very few to work with at any one time. We also tested a new technique during the process reported to decrease birthing problems in mice."

Using skin cells taken from the original horse, viable embryos were developed with the recovered egg cells, which were then implanted in a mare named Minnie. The mare was then sent to Florida, where experts at the University of Florida assisted with the foal's delivery.

The foal, named Mouse in honor of the research that made his birth possible, is a clone of a Lippizan stallion named Marc. Both horses are owned by dressage trainer Kit Knotts, who lives in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Knotts cared for the pregnant mare before she delivered the cloned foal with the help of the University of Florida vets.

"Having Minnie with us for the months before the birth has been great," Knotts said. "The teamwork between Hinrichs and her colleagues has frankly saved Mouse's life more than once before and after birth."

Knotts provided the inspiration for the cloning project after learning about Texas A&M's cloning efforts while searching for a horse similar to her stallion.

"Everything I could turn up was too small, too young, too old, not quite sound, etc.," Knotts said. "I realized I didn't just want another horse, I wanted another Marc."

While Mouse was born with dark brown fur, as a member of the Lippizan breed, he will become a gray-white color like that of Marc, said Angela Clendenin, director of communications and public relations for the vet school.

Knotts was happy to be a part of the University's research in the field of cloning.

"Dr. Hinrichs has been wonderful about keeping me up on what is going on in the lab," Knotts said. "I'm very proud of the contributions our project has made to the body of knowledge about cloning, which benefits far more areas of equine reproduction than most realize."

In addition to Hinrich's achievements in equestrian cloning, Texas A&M has made other cloning milestones in the past decade. Researchers in the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences created the first clone of a domestic animal, a cat named CC for "Copy Cat," in 2001.

Scientists from the University also became the first to clone a deer in 2003. Other successfully cloned species include cattle, pigs and goats.

 

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