Four healthy piglets were successfully cloned using cells from a single donor in Vietnam last week, opening the door to new capabilities in organ transplantation.
The piglets are of the ‘I,' or Vietnamese Pot-bellied, a breed of small domestic pig found in northern parts of the country.
The four piglets were cloned on March 10 with somatic cells derived from the ear tissue of a mature pig, the verified Facebook page of the Vietnamese government announced on Sunday.
“This is an outstanding step forward for Vietnam’s science and technology in the field of animal cloning,” the post reads.
A group of scientists from the National Institute of Animal Sciences (NIAS) began their research into the cloning technology in July 2020 as part of a government program that encouraged research and application of biotechnology in agriculture and rural development.
|A scientist inspects a cloned piglet in Vietnam. Photo: V. Giang / Tuoi Tre|
The NIAS director, Dr. Pham Cong Thieu, was quoted as saying the scientists had overcome the challenges of limited infrastructure and equipment to make a success out of their research.
Using zona pellucida-free eggs allowed the group to create a large number of embryos in a short time, while blastocyst stage (days 5–6) embryo transfer improved conception rates to 61 percent against the world average of 24 percent.
The results of their research have been published in a number of acclaimed domestic and international scientific journals including Theriogenology, an international forum for researchers, clinicians, and industry professionals in animal reproductive biology.
|Scientists take care of cloned piglets in Vietnam. Photo: V. Giang / Tuoi Tre|
“This outstanding achievement has opened up new research directions on the application of animal cloning technology in breeding, conservation of high-value and rare animals, combining animal cloning with gene-editing technologies to create high-yield, disease-resistant and climate-resilient breeds, and creating desired cloned pigs for organ transplantation in the future,” the government-run social media page said.
Cloning is the process of producing individuals artificially using cells from an original, independent of the natural fertilization process.
Over 20 different breeds of animals have been cloned by scientists across the world since the first successful animal cloning was done on mice in 1979.