Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Cloning Horses----it was bound to happen



I posted some time back about the potential for cloning in the Horse industry. I think there is alot of risk for abuse if we don't proceed with caution. There is now a report of another equine clone....this one commercial. Barrel racer Charmayne James who became the first "million dollar" cowgirl riding "Scamper" to an unprecedented 10 world championships had him cloned. While equine cloning has been done successfully at Texas A&M this is the first done by a private corporation.
She paid the Austin based ViaGen Inc. $150,000 to clone Scamper. In the cloning process genetic material is extracted from the donor cell and place in a recipient egg that has had it's genetic material removed. the egg is then implanted in a fertile mare which carries it to term. In this case , it took only four attempts to achieve conception. Having spent many years working with broodmares I find this remarkable. The foal was born Aug 8th and was named "Clayton". The owner says the foal has all of the characteristics of Scamper. The strange point of this story is the following quote " The foal is almost identical to the older model, except for white markings between Clayton's eyes". It's my understanding that a clone is like an identical twin....the same in every way. The genetic material should be identical, so how does one have a star and the other not. Could there be some "extra DNA" in the woodpile? So who would spend $150,000 on a horse that cannot be registered by the AQHA. The plan is to breed Clayton . Another question has to be ....can you register the offspring. There are philosophical,moral and scientific questions to be asked before we go very far down this road. Lets make sure we tread slowly.

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