Scientists at the University of Georgia have cloned eight calves using a new technique. The calves now range in age from two to four months old. The scientists, lead by Steve Stice, say they believe that their new method will greatly increase the efficiency of the cloning process in cattle.
The calves were cloned from a prize cow which had grown too old to reproduce naturally. The technique used differs from the cell nuclear transfer used when cloning Dolly the sheep in the way that the animal's cells were handled. Stice said 'before we used the in the cloning process, we treated them in a different way and made them more consistent, more homogenous. Using a more consistent source material for cloning, it is our belief that we produced more viable embryos.'
The new method is said to greatly improve the chance of cloned cattle embryos developing into viable calves. Previous studies have shown that about five per cent of cloned cow embryos develop into healthy animals. The scientists at Georgia university say their success rate was 14.3 per cent. No further information has been given by the team as the university team has applied for a patent for the new technique.