Cloned pig debuts in Science, sets the stage for organ transplants

Please Note: This embargo-date has changed. It is embargoed until 2:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern Time Wednesday, 16 August, 2000.

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Her name is Xena, and she joins that other famous female, Dolly, in the ranks of the barnyard cloned. Xena's debut is reported in the 18 August issue of the international journal, Science.

Xena's name underscores one hope for the future of pig cloning-the use of these animals in xenotransplantation, where pigs would be donors of genetically modified organs for transplant into humans. Along with xenotransplantation, pig cloning also may pave the way for a variety of advances in animal husbandry, according to Science lead author Akira Onishi of the National Institute of Animal Industry in Japan.

The female piglet was cloned by microinjecting genetic material from fetal pig skin cells into eggs stripped of their own genetic material. A needle-like pipette used in the microinjection works like a tiny gun or drill, firing into the egg in a controlled and rapid motion.

This method is based on one reported two years ago by Teruhiko Wakayama and colleagues at the University of Honolulu to successfully clone mice.

Onishi and coauthors suggest that this quick and clean insertion may be key to Xena's successful birth. The method transfers only the genetic material from the fetal donor cell. By comparison, the method used to clone Dolly fuses together the entire donor cell containing the genetic material and the empty egg.

"With microinjection, you can be quite selective about the genetic transfer," says co-author Anthony C.F. Perry of the Rockefeller University. "Y

Contact: Heather Singmaster
American Association for the Advancement of Science

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