Horse cloning gallops forward

CLONING has galloped forward with the creation of a stallion from a castrated horse race champion, it was revealed yesterday.

The foal, born in February, is the first clone produced for breeding from a sterile animal.

It is also only the second horse clone ever born.

Both clones were created at the Italian laboratory of Professor Cesare Galli, at Cremona, near Milan.

The first, Prometea, a female, was born in 2003 and is now two years old.

Yesterday Professor Galli announced his second success, the birth of Pieraz-Cryozootech, the world's first stallion clone. The foal's "father" was Pieraz, an Arab which won the world endurance race championship in 1994 and 1996.

Pieraz is now retired at the stables in Fort Valley, Virginia, USA, of owner, trainer and rider Valerie Kanavy.

Pieraz-Cryozootech was created from skin cells taken from the former champion using the same technique employed to make Dolly the Sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.

DNA from the skin cells was transferred to egg cells emptied of their own genetic material.

The resulting embryos were then implanted into the wombs of surrogate mares.

What makes the foal so special is that Pieraz, like many race horses, was a gelding.

The breakthrough paves the way to preserving the best race horse bloodstock by creating clones suitable for breeding.

Professor Galli said from his Laboratory of Reproductive Technology yesterday: "The original horse is a champion with a good record, but was gelded, so he couldn't have any offspring.

"In these cases, the best horses are never bred, so they do not contribute to genetic progress. What we have achieved overcomes this problem.

"In two or three years, the cloned foal can be used as a stallion."

It took 226 genetic transfer attempts to produce Pieraz-Cryozootech.

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