Researchers at Cornell University have announced that the world’s first IVF puppies have been born to a surrogate mother.
World, meet Ivy, Cannon, Beaker, Nelly, Buddy, Red and Green. Those seven names belong to a litter of puppies born to a surrogate mother over the summer via in vitro fertilization, the puppies “belonging” to three different pairs of parents. They don’t even all share the same breed.
In vitro fertilization, or IVF, is the process by which an ovum is fertilized outside the uterus (in vitro literally means “in glass”), then inserted later on into the woman from whom the egg came from, or another. Since the late 70s, people have been using the treatment to bypass infertility and other obstacles to childbirth. Typically an expensive process, it is usually only applied when other options have been exhausted.
Alex Travis, from Cornell University, led the experiment. “Since the mid-1970s, people have been trying to do this in a dog and have been unsuccessful.”
“We had people lined up, each with a towel, to grab a puppy and rub them and warm them up,” Travis tells the Guardian. “When you hear that first cry and they start wriggling a bit, it’s pure happiness. You’re ecstatic that they’re all healthy and alive and doing well.”
As evidenced by the fact that the pups came from different sets of parents and breeds (the surrogate mother is a beagle, and the parents were beagles and cocker spaniels), the hope is that the process can be used to resuscitate endangered breeds of dogs when typical breeding can’t be accomplished.
Further down the line, IVF can be used to rear populations of endangered – or perhaps extinct – species. One hope shared by the researchers is that the techniques developed will be used to treat genetic diseases (dogs and humans share many) through genetic editing, and maybe even wrap around again to improve human IVF treatment.
Jurassic Bark is just around the corner, people. Are we ready for an army of genetically-modified corgis, each with legs stubbier than the last? I don’t think I could survive.