New frozen embryo technology set to be a ‘game changer’ for beef industry, Central Queensland University (CQU), 26August 2016. (Also reported in Beef Central under the headline of Genetics: new technique greatly enhances survival rates in frozen embryos, 31 August 2016.)

An edited extract of the original article is reproduced below.

A  frozen embryo process known as vitrification has been refined to the point where it is consistently achieving pregnancy rates of 50 per cent or greater, promising ‘game-changing’ benefits for the beef industry.

The potential to stockpile embryos for convenient use will supercharge transfer of the best cattle genetics throughout Northern Australia. It’s about to be taken up in Vietnam in a big way too.

That’s according to Simon Walton, from the Australian Reproductive Technologies (ART) facility near Rockhampton, who thanks visiting Vietnamese researcher Do Van Huong for fine-tuning the process as part of his CQUniversity project.

The cryopreservation by liquid nitrogen process, known as vitrification, utilises ultra-rapid cooling of cattle embryos produced by IVF to -196C, enabling them to be stockpiled and transferred anywhere and at any time that is convenient.

“This technology is the single biggest leap forward for the beef industry in some time,” Mr Walton says.

He says there is potential for the new process to be used in the transfer of 20,000 cattle embryos in Vietnam in the near future.

The process would be used to improve the genetics of the existing Vietnamese dairy herd. It would also be used to expand the genetics of live beef cattle imports from Australia to Vietnam.

While Simon Walton is excited about the prospects for ART’s international ventures, he says that his main drive to perfect the technology is its application in Australia, and particularly the Northern beef industry.

Mr Huong says that, historically, the freezing of IVF embryos in cattle, as opposed to humans, has posed many challenges including poor survival rates of embryos frozen by conventional methods.

“My PhD project complements our ongoing research carried out with ART on modifications to improve embryo transfer efficiency, to enhance genetic progress in beef cattle in Northern Australia”…

 

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