Science Brings in Vitro Beagle Puppies to Life

Researchers report that the first dogs born by IVF have arrived...but what took so long?

A study released Wednesday announced a dog has given birth to a litter conceived by IVF, the first time such an achievement has ever been realized.

According to the December 9 research article posted to Plos One, the “intra-oviductal transfer of nineteen cryopreserved, in vitro fertilization (IVF)-derived embryos resulted in seven live, healthy puppies.” What makes this especially unique is that while IVF is used successfully and commonly in human reproduction, the in vitro success level in creating canines was at zero—until this these puppies came along:

And what a success it was—as you can see in the video above, the little pooches appear to be as cute and playful as one expects puppies to be.

The reasons why it has been so hard to impregnate dogs via IVF is related to such factors as “obligatory prolonged ovarian inactivity,” and the high lipid content in canine oocytes, which makes the identification of intracellular structures and the cryopreservation of functional eggs and embryos more difficult—among other very heady reasons—but what is key is that the feat not only bodes well for forthcoming mounds of squirming, yelping cute puppy videos, but also for canine creatures whose futures are uncertain. The article states:

“Successful IVF makes possible a variety of applications, including opening new opportunities for gamete rescue of endangered species or targeted propagation of domestic dogs of high genetic value.”

This means the chances of strengthening or reviving species of wolves and other canines just got a whole lot better.

Additionally, as dogs are the preferred model for stem cell transplant studies and gene therapy—the animal does share several pathologies with human beings—successful IVF in dogs also means improved study and possible implementation of other gene-integral technologies. As the Plos One article concludes, the successful in vitro fertilization in dogs means “broad positive impacts on human and companion animal health and welfare.”

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