EMBRYOGENESIS-THE NEXT GENERATION OF ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY

Nuclear Transfer (NT) is an exciting Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) that has been developed over the last 50 years and is now at the point where it is joining other industry reproductive technology options such as Artificial Insemination and Embryo Transfer. NT Technology has the proven ability to rapidly improve genetic quality, reduce variability and exponentially increase high value breeding populations.

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Recent advancements have included specific treatments to the donor cell that enable an effectual interaction (reprogramming) with the oocyte and highly detailed selection of viable embryos prior to embryo transfer. Combined, these procedures increase the overall efficiency of the nuclear transfer procedure. This is a safe technology that has already extensively been demonstrated in over 20 species and is used in various industries worldwide. The resultant livestock born using NT have been approved for inclusion into the domestic consumptive food chain by a number of countries around the world including the American FDA, the China FDA and the Australian and New Zealand (FSANZ) Govts.

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EmbryoGenesis has now begun to commercialise this technology from its Australian Laboratories in Melbourne and made it affordable to large scale as well as small scale commercial operators.

We want to help breeders and commercial operators to remain internationally competitive by using cutting edge technology, such as NT, to rapidly enhance the value their breeding and commercial stock as well as to provide the operator/owner with an excellent revenue source unavailable up to now.

Embryogenesis will work together with individual owners and breeders of valuable genetic animals to develop much wider markets for these genetically premium livestock. The market size for NT embryos derived from these animals is global and always from an Australian source.

Working in partnership with EmbryoGenesis, these two facts alone can provide a vastly increased revenue stream from each individual animal.

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 How does it work?

Any genetically high value animal is of a commercial value for either its genetics or the sale of its produce over its commercial lifetime (eg Milk Volume, Meat Carcass Characteristics, Semen, Wool etc). Through the process of selected breeding, the operator attempts to select for desired traits over a variety of characteristics of an animal and then enhances these valuable traits by mating with carefully selected sires and dams.

A variety of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) has entered into this field over the last few decades:

  1. Artificial Insemination has allowed the rapid dissemination of the genetics from popular sires to become easily available to breeders of livestock around the globe with advent of the worldwide shipment of frozen semen from one country to another.
  2. Embryo Transfer technology has impacted the field of livestock breeding in a similar way.

Not only have both of these ART enabled the rapid escalation of improved genetics across a range of domestic livestock, but they have been quickly been accepted and recognised as safe and effective ways that allow owners and breeders to make rapid genetic gains.

Nuclear Transfer Technology is the next generation of ART. The technology is not new. It is now over 50 years old and has been accepted by numerous government authorities around the world. Animals produced by Nuclear Transfer are exact DNA genetic copies of the original animal and there are virtually no limits to the number of times this animal can be used in this way.

And all from a cell line derived from one simple ear punch biopsy.

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The process:

  1. A simple ear punch biopsy sent from anywhere in Australia ( or the world) is the initial step to start the process. Once received at the Embryogenesis laboratories in Melbourne, Australia, a pure fibroblast cell line is created and then placed in liquid nitrogen storage. This animal’s genetics are now available for many years- even after the original animal has died.
  2. An NT embryo(s) is/are created in the EmbryoGenesis laboratories and checked for DNA matching with the donor. The NT embryo(s) are then placed in liquid nitrogen.
  3. Now the original animal is available at anytime, anywhere in the world after national/international air shipment via a simple embryo transfer procedure.

The Options:

  1. As the market for the original animal (bull/cow (beef or dairy), sheep, goats and pigs), is now virtually unlimited and worldwide, the breeder is able to produce as many “copies” of this animal for either local use in Australia or for sale worldwide (Australian branded) via online auction of the NT embryo(s).
  2. An initial cell line establishment fee of AUD1000 as well as a cloning fee of AUD 4000 is applicable. This fee will provide the owner with 5 viable NT embryos for recipient transfer
  3. Before the NT embryos are constructed, EmbryoGenesis and the owner agree to a number of embryos to construct and the price that they will be sold at auction worldwide. The sale price of each “packet” of 5 NT embryos will be based upon the agreed insured/market value of the animal at this date.
  4. Depending on the number of NT embryos created, the net profit on sale is divided on percentage between to owner and EG. This percentage will depend on the number of NT embryos elected by the owner to be created and sold.
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Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why is Nuclear Transfer (NT) Technology Superior to other kinds of Assisted Reproductive Technologies like AI or ET?

NT allows an accelerated process for increasing genetic gain over current ART. Use of NT technology allows rapid dissemination of elite genetics throughout the herd. Technically, NT replaces the normal process of fertilization. In fertilization, the genetics of the new born animal is a combination of the parents. Considerable genetic variation occurs due to the interaction of the sire and dams genetics. In NT embryos the maternal DNA is removed from the egg and replaced by that of the donor fibroblast cell derived from the original animal being copied. Normal embryonic development is then driven by this introduced DNA from the copied animal.

  1. Will the new NT animal be the same age as the donor? ie is the NT animal born old?

The short answer is No. The process of nuclear transfer resets and reactivates the genetic material from the donor cell as if it had begun life as an embryo again. The mechanisms to do this are contained within the donor egg (oocyte).

  1. If the NT animal has the same genes as the original, what role does the environment/nutrition play?

These external (and even intrauterine) factors are termed epigenetics. Maximization of the animal’s potential through effective management of environmental/nutrition factors will benefit the purchaser of an NT embryo.

  1. What is the conception rate of these NT embryos?

EmbryoGenesis aims to achieve conception rates from Frozen NT embryos that are equivalent to industry standards (50-65% per embryo transferred). EmbryoGenesis continues to refine and adopt new developments to improve conception rates for benefit to all ET programs. This is in excess of the industry average. EmbryoGenesis offers on online ET Veterinary Advisory Service to assist purchasers in maximizing conception rates.

  1. Is this service available to animal owner/breeders outside Australia?

The answer to this is yes if the animal currently resides in a country approved by the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources for tissue importation into Australia.

Tissue samples (ear punch biopsy), will be shipped direct to Embryogenesis Biosecurity Laboratories in Melbourne, Australia where NT embryos will be created. These embryos are then able to be sold around the world as Australian origin, direct to the end user either in the country or origin or worldwide. Australia has an enviable, disease free reputation worldwide that can enhance the inherent value of the NT embryo.

Each NT embryo animal application is handled on an individual basis with Australian Biosecurity

NOTE: Australia has very strict biosecurity laws. Embryogenesis will not enter into any agreements designed in any way to circumvent these.

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For More Information Contact:

Prof Andrew French: andrew.french@unimelb.edu.au

Mobile: +61 437156266