In gallop to progress, Italian scientists clone a horse | india | Hindustan Times
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In gallop to progress, Italian scientists clone a horse

They said on Wednesday they have succeeded in cloning a horse, raising the prospect of duplicating racing and show champions.

india Updated: Dec 23, 2003 13:35 IST
PTI

Italian scientists announced on Wednesday they have succeeded in cloning a horse, raising the prospect of duplicating racing and show champions.

But the development, announced in the science journal Nature, was immediately denounced by two leading sporting organisations here, the Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Breeders Association.

Researchers at the Reproductive Technology Laboratory in Cremona fused skin cells with horses eggs from which they had removed the nuclei. They created nearly 850 embryos, of which only 22 reached the cell division stage.

Four mares were impregnated, but three aborted. One produced a genetically identical copy of itself. The foal, born on May 28, was named Prometea and was said to be progressing normally.

The birth added to a list of animals that have been successfully cloned since Dolly the Sheep was born in Scotland in 1997, including mice, cattle, goats, rabbits, cats, pigs and recently, in the United States, a mule.

"In principle, cloning could enable gelding champions to contribute their genotype to future generations, as well as opening up an opportunity to verify the reproducibility of trains such as character and sporting performance," the Italian scientists said.

A gelding is a horse that has been castrated to improve certain performance characteristics, and which cannot be used for breeding.

Philip Freedman, chairman of the Thoroughbred Breeders Association, said the horse-cloning experiment was of "no value" to the racing community because a horse created by artificial insemination could not enter the stud books.