COLLEGE STATION, Texas – A team of French and American researchers has successfully cloned a horse, Texas A&M University (search) officials announced Wednesday. The foal was named Paris Texas (search).
The university believes it's the first successful cloned horse in North America; horses have previously been cloned in Italy.
"Look at him, he's gorgeous," Katrin Hinrichs, the lead scientist on the project said just before the six-week-old, light brown foal made his public debut. He whinnied and walked up to several photographers who snapped his picture.
"He's very bold," said Hinrichs, a professor at Texas A&M's College of Veterinary Medicine. She also heads the school's Equine Embryo Laboratory (search).
A&M researchers used adult horse skin cells biopsied from a valuable horse in Europe to clone the foal, born March 13. The process took 400 attempts over a four-month period.
Six embryos were created but only one was successfully gestated in a host horse named Greta during a pregnancy that lasted 12 1/2 months. Horses usually have an 11-month gestation.
Cryozootech, A&M's Paris-based partner, is dedicated to preserving the genes of exceptional horses for their use in producing cloned offspring, though there are no guarantees Paris Texas will turn out exactly the same as the donor horse.
The first cloned cat was born at the school Dec. 22, 2001. Since then, the university has cloned several litters of pigs, a Boer goat, a disease-resistant Angus bull, the first Brahma bull and a deer.