Audubon Nature Institute: http://www.auduboninstitute.org
XY Inc: http://www.xyinc.com/
NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 17 /PRNewswire/ — With the birth of the world’s first sex-selected kittens, a common house cat has become queen of the jungle, at least in the feline kingdom, which includes 36 exotic species — almost all of them endangered.
For the first time ever, domestic kittens were born with their sex predetermined using XY® Sex-Selection Technologies, a cutting-edge sperm- sorting technology developed by XY Inc., a global biotech company headquartered in Fort Collins, Colorado. A litter of healthy, hungry kittens, produced from embryos fertilized with sexed sperm, was born at Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species (ACRES) in New Orleans on Oct. 11, 2006. The five kittens are the correct pre-determined sex-female.
The births advance the science of high-tech assisted reproduction by confirming that fresh cat sperm can be successfully shipped to a sorting facility, processed, return shipped and remain viable to produce healthy sex- selected felines. The success is the result of a research collaboration between ACRES and XY Inc., in which XY developed the technology specific to cat sperm, and ACRES adapted existing protocols to work with sorted sperm.
“The knowledge gained through this research will help scientists and conservationists cope with threats to the most seriously endangered feline species by developing new reproductive technologies and reintroduction techniques necessary to ensure their long-term survival,” said Audubon Nature Institute Senior Vice President and ACRES Director of Research Dr. Betsy Dresser.
ACRES is globally recognized for its wildlife conservation-directed research, which focuses on use of state-of-the-art assisted-reproductive technologies such as cryopreservation of sperm and embryos; artificial insemination; in vitro fertilization; and embryo transfer.
“Audubon Nature Institute recognizes the importance of this type of conservation work to future generations and is committed to making this success a reality,” said Ron Forman, President and CEO of Audubon Nature Institute.
Sperm-sorting technology, one of the world’s most promising biotech industries, separates sperm that carry the X chromosome and produce females from sperm that carry the Y chromosome and produce males. XY Inc. developed and now holds key patents to such technology.
Dr. Mervyn Jacobson, president and CEO of XY Inc., said, “To produce beautiful, live, healthy kittens whose sex was predetermined is a first in the world of science and in the race to protect and preserve threatened and endangered felines. We are delighted our technology was able to help achieve such a wonderful outcome.”
Throughout July and early August, XY Inc. sorted several samples of fresh domestic cat sperm ejaculates, which had been collected and express shipped by the ACRES research team. Once the sperm were sorted, they were express shipped back to ACRES where Dr. C. Earle Pope, senior scientist and ACRES research team leader for this project, and others produced embryos using sexed sperm in a petrie dish. Two days later IVF embryos were transferred to recipient female cats and after a 62-day gestation, the kittens demonstrate the success of this pioneering research.
“This presents an amazing springboard for assisting the propagation of exotic cat species, for which the domestic cat has provided a successful model,” said Dr. Elizabeth Crichton, XY Inc. reproductive physiologist who has focused her research efforts in the study of sperm and their preservation in wildlife and exotic mammalian species. “Combining the ACRES team with XY Inc.’s 10 years of globally recognized advancements in sex selection in animals can only benefit endangered felines.”
Dr. Pope, a reproductive physiologist world renowned for his work with the advancement of assisted-reproductive technologies and their application to wildlife, took a lead in the sex-selection work with XY Inc. He is an expert in intra- and inter-species embryo transfer of in vitro derived embryos.
“We couldn’t be happier with these births,” said Dr. Pope. “Sex selection is critically important in the race against extinction of endangered exotic feline populations.
“Our ability to determine the birth of female felines in captivity will help advance the work of animal preservationists trying to increase the numbers of endangered felines in the wild.”
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