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The wonders of science? Print E-mail
Tuesday, 29 December 2015 09:30

IVF for childlress couples has long been accepted but now the first litter of puppies conceived through this technology has been born.  Other species such as cows, pogs, monkeys have started life in a test tube but not dogs - up until now.  An American institution grew the eggs inside donor dogs for four days and then mixed them with the sperm from a cocker spaniel and a beagle.  The embryos were then allowed to grow for a few days before being frozen and then, finally, thawed out and placed in a surrogate mother.  Out of the 19 embryos placed in the surrogate, seven healthy puppies were born -  the same litter but with different mothers and fathers.  Researchers argue that such experiments could eliminate many of the genetic conditions that blight our favourite breeds: such as heart disease, cancer and hip dysplasia.  But how long will it be before owners desperate for their dog to have puppies pay for IVF?

As proof that there is no limit to the sums some owners are prepared to pay we only have to look at the couple who paid nearly £70,000 for their boxer to be cloned in south Korea.  The boxer died in June from a brain tumour (and is still in their chest freezeer while they landscape their garden) and the laboratory in Seoul implanted DNA into a dog egg that had had its nucleus removed. The egg was then given electric shocks to start cell division and then implanted into a surrogate animal, and born by caesarian section with the original boxer's DNA. The couple are thrilled with the resulting two puppies but accept that many people will be opposed to their action.  Our concern lies in the way they have failed to cope with the loss of their much loved dog and one can see the extent of the problem from their own words: I mothered Dylan so much, he was my baby, my child, my entire world."

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