TANUVAS to use cloning to revive nearly extinct cattle species

TANUVAS to use cloning to revive nearly extinct cattle species Chennai: Enthused by possibilities of cloning giving a new lease of life to endangered species, Tamil Nadu Veterinary and Animal Sciences University (TANUVAS) is all set to produce cloned varieties of such animals using nuclear transfer technology by next year.

"Cloning holds the future possibility bringing back long extinct animals, whose DNA material can still be found as it holds the entire information of creating the organism", TANUVAS Vice Chancellor Dr P Thangaraju said.

Thangaraju said that among their first tasks would be to work on reviving some old endangered cattle species, for which TANUVAS has already set up a high tech research laboratory.

A team has been formed and has started working on standardised techniques for cloning sheep and rabbits, he said.

The technology involves transferring the complete genetic material from the nucleus of a cultured donor cell to a mature recipient egg, whose nucleus has been removed. The resulting offspring are genetically identical to the founder animal who supplied the donor nucleus.

Pointing out that scientists all over the world have for long been trying to clone animals, he said the process fails many a time during pregnancy or due to some birth defects. "The outcome of our research cannot be predicted immediately as it involves many permutations and combinations to produce a healthy animal from cloning", he said.

Thangaraju said TANUVAS has also submitted a project to the Centre for further funding for research on cloning.

Thangaraj said TANUVAS would for the first time in the country set up an umbilical cord cell bank for animals.

"For the first time in the country, after using autologous (patient derived) stem cell therapy for management of a dog's spinal cord injury, we plan to set up an umbilical cord cell bank for animals, especially for dogs and horses," he said.

The bank, with a high-tech laboratory, would help treat animals through stem cell procedure, he said.

"We are going to submit a big project on stem cell research to the Department of Bio-technology this month at Delhi. Its expert committee will go through the papers and soon give us permission to do research," he said.

Thangaraju said TANUVAS has also requested for about Rs 24 crore from the Department to explore possibilities in stem cell procedures to treat animals.

He said the University is also undertaking research on In-vitro fertilization (IVF) techniques through which immature oocytes harvested from ovaries collected from slaughtered sheep and buffalo are cultured for maturation and inseminated with genetically superior semen for production of embryos.

"These techniques have been standardized under laboratory conditions for production of embryos", he said, adding TANUVAS also offers training programmes in IVF and embryo co-culture techniques to medical and life sciences staff and students.

TANUVAS has also perfected surgical embryo transfer techniques in rabbits and goats and successfully produced these animals through embryo transfer, he said.