Wed, Jul 21, 2004 - Page 4 News List

Cloned cows to be showcased at bio-tech exhibit

DOUBLE BEEF While over 700 booths will be set up at the international Bio Taiwan 2004 exhibition, two cloned calves are sure to steal the spotlight

CNA , Taipei

Two of the first batch of cloned dairy cows that Taiwanese researchers have bred this year are expected to make their public debut in Taipei at Bio Taiwan 2004 -- Asia's largest international biotechnology exhibition, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday.

Council Vice Chairman Lee Chien-chuan (李健全) said that the two cloned calves -- named Ju-yi (如意) No. 3 and Ju-yi No. 4 -- are bound to be the focus of attention at the Bio Taiwan 2004 exhibition to be held at the Taipei World Trade Center today through Saturday.

Lee said cloning technologies to improve the quality of plants and animals will be an important field of research and industry in the 21st century.

Lee said Ju-yi No. 3 was the fruit of a Taiwan-US scientific and technological cooperation project.

Using ear-derived somatic cells from an adult Dutch dairy cow raised at a ranch in Kaohsiung County, scientists from the Taiwan Livestock Research Institute produce cloned embryos in the laboratory of Jerry Yang (楊向中), a Chinese-American professor at the University of Connecticut during a trip they made to the US last year.

The cloned embryos were frozen by advanced fibroblant technology and then airlifted back to Taiwan. The TLRI research team then thawed the embryos and implanted one in a cow that gave natural birth to Ju-yi No. 3 on Jan. 16.

Lee said Ju-Yi No. 3, weighing 173kg now, marks the world's first successful case of using fibroblant refrigeration technology in animal cloning.

"The success in cloning the four dairy cows over the past several months marks a significant step forward in our cloning technology. It indicates that our cloning technology has matured. The fertility rate of cloned embryos has risen to 27.3 percent, indicating that mass production is now feasible," Lee said, adding that the fertility rate of frozen embryos is now 12.5 percent.

Lee further said that cloning from somatic cells marks an important milestone in the development of biotechnology.

"It's like a key to a brave new world," he said.

The technology used in cloning dairy cows could eventually be applied to improving livestock species, creating genetically modified livestock, breeding endangered animal species and could even be used in clinical medicine.

The TLRI has cloned goats and pigs in the past. Among the cloned animals, twin dairy goats -- Paochi and Paohsiang -- born in 2002, are both flourishing. The Bio Taiwan 2004 will house 700 booths where biotech researchers, industrial inventors and business executives in the field from Taiwan, Thailand, the US and the Philippines are expected to show off their latest research and development achievements.

Bio Taiwan 2004 will be held at the same time as the Third APEC Biotechnology Conference, which will focus on cooperation and harmonization among APEC members.

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