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First Ever 'Test Tube' Puppies Born Through In-Vitro Fertilization

Update Date: Dec 15, 2015 09:10 AM EST

Amazingly, a litter of puppies has been given life through in-vitro fertilization.

"We each took a puppy and rubbed it with a little towel and when it started to squiggle and cry, we knew we had success," said Dr. Alexander Travis, who runs the lab at the Baker Institute for Animal Health at Cornell University's College of Veterinary Medicine in Ithaca, New York.

So the "test tube" puppies can not only prevent endangered canine species with the help of "assisted reproduction techniques" but would also enable researchers to efface heritable canine illnesses.

It was a new effort in which 19 embryos were transferred to the host female dog. It resulted in seven healthy puppies, two from a beagle mother and a cocker spaniel father, even as five were from two couples of beagle fathers and mothers.

"Since the mid-1970s, people have been trying to do this in a dog and have been unsuccessful," said Alex Travis, one of the researchers, in a news release. Now, it seems the researchers have finally made this possible.

Researchers fertilized a mature egg with a sperm in order to form an embryo, and then wanted to return it into a host female at the correct time, in her reproductive cycle.

They collected mature eggs from the female oviduct, and first tried to use eggs that shared the stage of cell maturation of other animals. However, as the reproductive cycles of dogs was different from other mammals, they did not fertilize.

Hence, by leaving the egg in the oviduct for an extra day, the scientists enabled the eggs to reach an improved stage of fertilisation.

Secondly, the female tract had to prepare the sperm for fertilisation, which was managed when researchers simulated the conditions in the lab and added magnesium to the cell cultures.

The exciting news for wildlife conservation is that researchers can "freeze and bank sperm and use it for artificial insemination", along with freezing oocytes of endangered species.

The study was published in the journal PLOS One.

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