Mar
21
2007

An international biotechnology company added canines to its list of “sex-selected” animals this month. Employees at XY Inc. in Fort Collins , Colo. announced the birth of five black Labrador puppies on xxx, almost five months after a litter of sex-selected cats was announced at the Audubon Center for Research of Endangered Species in New Orleans.

XY is one of two companies selected by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to develop the technology, said John Schenk, a reproductive physiologist for XY. He explained that the partnership between XY and the Audubon Society will focus on endangered species.

For the canine litter, XY researchers used flow cytometry to separate sperm. The sperm with X chromosomes carries more DNA than the sperm that carries the Y, Schenk said. It was used to control sex selection in an employee’s Labrador named Rose, a first-time mother that was artificially inseminated three times with less than 95 million sorted sperm. In comparison, a typical dose for artificial insemination consists of 100 million non-sorted sperm.

If the technology proves successful with future litters, some professionals will use it to produce seeing eye-dogs. This news joins a long list of announcements made over the last several years regarding genetically-engineered pets, dogs and cats, a topic for one session at AAHA’s Yearly Conference that touched on ethical issues.

“Right now I’m hopeful that it will be used in the right context,” said Schenk who explained that some organizations believe that females make better seeing eye dogs and added that the technology has been used to avoid sex-linked human diseases in children. “That application is pretty cool,” he said, referring to medical issues. “But people who just want to pick the sex of their kids are pig-headed.”

The company reported no complications during Rose’s nine-week gestation cycle. The process has been used on thousands of animal species, including cattle, horses, and sheep.

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