The much-anticipated arrival of the first cloned gaur, a rare oxlike species, ended sadly but raised hopes for a future success.
The baby seemed healthy when it was delivered by cesarean section from its surrogate mother, a cow, on Jan. 8, according to Advanced Cell Technology (ACT) in Worcester, Mass. Two days later, however, the calf died from a bacterial infection.
The company proposes that cloning could become a valuable conservation aid. To test the idea, ACT selected the rare gaur of southeast Asia and India. Researchers removed nuclei from cow eggs and substituted nuclei of frozen skin cells from a male gaur that died 8 years ago. Out of 40 embryos implanted in 32 cows came 8 pregnancies and 1 full-term infant.
Despite the gaur calf’s death, the newborn proved that the basic approach works, says Philip Damiani of ACT. “We’d like to try the gaur again,” he adds.