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."
BresaGen President & CEO, Dr John Smeaton, said the technology used to clone the pig was unique.
"It is significantly different from the technology used to make Dolly the sheep," he explained. "Basically what works in sheep doesn't work in pigs, so we had to start from scratch. Consequently we have something new for the pig and have filed a patent application. This is an excellent result for BresaGen and is indicative of the technical strength the company has in the field of reproductive biology and embryo research."
A further application, and one of particular interest to the medical
community, is xenotransplantation. Every year thousands of people
around the world die while waiting for organ transplanta
Contact: Dr Meera Verma