Making your own cow has never been easier. The science behind making your own cow is unfortunately still pretty complicated.
Nevertheless, here it goes: Pregenex LLC, an early stage biotech firm in Boalsburg, announced the first handmade cloning cattle pregnancy in the United States. This involved taking donor tissue from both a live and freshly deceased cow's ear and inserting it into an empty cow egg.
As those of you cloning along at home may have guessed, this created single-cell embryos that were genetic copies of the donor cow. Multiple pregnancies were confirmed 90 days after said embryos were implanted in recipients.
"It wasn't an easy thing to learn," Sherrill Sonsteby, lab director at Pregenex, said.
Fortunately Gabor Vajta, the Australian embryologist who pioneered the handmade cloning technique, was doing the teaching.
By eliminating the need for micromanipulators and skilled expertise — all you need to know about the first one is that it's expensive — Vajta's approach could make cloning more accessible to the average breeder, producer or farmer.
Sonsteby said that conventional cloning methods could carry as high as a $30,000 price tag. In Boalsburg, they're asking for $6,000.
The upside of that investment? Cows with highly desirable traits that are disease resistant and free of hormones and antibiotics. Using the handmade cloning method also results in higher pregnancy rates.
Sonsteby recently worked with a client who found his 12 year-old female dead in a field. She was able to walk him through the process of collecting DNA samples from the cow's ear, which arrived at the lab the next day via Fed Ex.
From there, it took them two months to create the embryos that were implanted inside recipients back on the farm, where two bouncing baby cow clones are expected to be delivered come September.