(ORDO NEWS) — Chinese scientists have carried out the first fully automated cloning process, in which no human was involved in any of the stages.
This approach has increased the success of the operation. The researchers hope that the results of their work will make agriculture in China less dependent on imported livestock.
Scientists from Nankai University (China) have cloned pigs using a robot for the first time. The female, who went through the process of fertilization, in each stage of which the robot participated, on March 31, 2022, gave birth to seven healthy piglets of the Landrace breed.
Each phase of the process was automated, no human was involved in any operation. According to scientists, the involvement of robots increases the success of cloning, because their actions are more accurate and less likely to damage cells.
Today, China is the world’s largest consumer of pork, but Beijing is striving to become more independent of imports of this product, especially in connection with the numerous sanctions of the United States and other countries. In addition, Chinese pig breeds are rapidly degenerating.
Cloning could be an effective solution to the problem. The most common method of cloning is called somatic cell nuclear transfer.
It uses the egg and somatic cell of the cloned animal. After that, scientists remove the nucleus from the egg and replace it with the nucleus of a somatic cell.
The procedure includes many complex and time-consuming steps, requires the participation of qualified personnel and cannot be scaled up. In 2017, researchers bred the world’s first robot-cloned piglets, but then humans were still involved in some of the steps.
Now it was possible to achieve full automation of the process. The robot has microscopic vision, and with the help of artificial intelligence, it calculates the deformation of the cells in order to apply minimal force and not damage the oocyte during the operation. This improves the accuracy of cloning and the speed of embryonic development.
The use of automated cloning technology increased the success of the operation from 10% to 27.5%. The first piglets resulting from cloning are suitable for breeding. Any company or research institution will be able to purchase an automated system in the future.
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