The world’s first foal from a biopsied and vitrified embryo transferred into a surrogate mare was born Jan. 27, 2010, at Minitube International Center for Biotechnology in Mount Horeb, Wisc. The procedure used to create the filly provides horse breeders with an opportunity to directly test embryos for genetic traits including gender, coat color, genetic diseases, and select desirable genetics from stallion and mare combinations.
"Biopsita" and her dam are doing well.
A report on the procedure will be presented at the 10th International Symposium on Equine Reproduction in Kentucky this July.
"Embryo transfer and cryopreservation have been steadily gaining traction in equine reproduction as the technology further develops and the equestrian community adjusts registry requirements," said Mats Troedsson, DVM, PhD, Dipl. ACT, Director of the Gluck Equine Research Center at the University of Kentucky and Director of Equine Research for Minitube International. "But the ability to genetically screen an equine embryo before transfer would change horse breeding as we know it today." (See a video interview with Troedsson.)
To make Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis (genetic screening of an equine embryo) practical, the embryo needs to be biopsied, vitrified, and later transferred into a recipient.
The sample can be tested for gender and coat color, as well as genetic diseases. This technology has the potential to allow breeders to avoid producing horses that are carriers for genetic diseases, eventually removing these diseases from the gene pool.
Minitube, in collaboration with the Madison Equine Clinic and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute, currently offers equine vitrification and embryo transfer services throughout the United States and will be adding Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis to its available services.
- Read more: "Freezing Embryos"