Chinese tapping Rockhampton’s embryologist’s IVF skills
CHINESE dairy farmers have embraced cattle IVF technology developed by Simon Walton in a bid to grow their herds. Now there is a chance the country's residents will call on the embryologist's extensive experience in human IVF to help grow their families. Mr Walton is general manager of Mt Chalmers- based Australian Reproductive Technologies, which recently entered into a 10-year, $40million joint venture with the Shanghai Dairy Group. The cattle IVF program will have the number of milking cows grow from 60,000 to 230,000 in the next five years. Mr Walton said that since his company had established a foothold in China, he had fielded some inquiries about human IVF after China moved to loosen its one-child policy. Tubal ligation was often used to sterilise women after they had their first child. Mr Walton said the procedure was generally irreversible and the only chance of having another child was through IVF. Mr Walton has 25 years' experience in in vitro fertilisation. He started his work in human IVF with the highly regarded Genea IVF clinic in Sydney. He did a range of consultancy work across the globe and was instrumental in the establishment of a fertility clinic in Muscat, Oman. Mr Walton then moved into cattle reproduction, his ultimate passion. At the end of the month, he will meet with the government of Botswana to discuss the prospect of that country adopting the successful cattle IVF program.

The Morning Bulletin 8th January 2014


World first: CQ heifer pregnant with region's first clone cow
IN a world first, a Central Queensland heifer is pregnant with what is believed to be the region's first cloned cow. The grazier and reproductive biotechnologist behind the successful pregnancy are overjoyed, after the technology they used to clone the cow took just two attempts to work. Australian Reproductive Technology managing director Simon Walton says the cloning of the cow, on a property near Westwood, is an amazing outcome he's very proud of. "We are the only facility in the world which has cloned successfully on our second attempt, no other facility in the world has done this on the second go," Mr Walton says. "Sixteen years ago the technology used to clone the first mammal in the world, Dolly, is too expensive which is why we are working with CQUniversity to create a cheaper and more efficient method of cloning animals."

The Morning Bulletin 29th October 2013


Birth of calf expected after handmade cloning
Professor GáborVajta has been working on a more viable handmade cloning technique in collaboration with local firm Australian Reproductive Technologies. Even though Dolly the Sheep was famously born back in 1996, traditional cloning has proven to be too expensive to be viable in the cattle industry. However, in 2001, Professor Gábor Vajta was involved with Dr Ian Lewis at the Monash Institute of Reproduction and Development, in the development of a ‘handmade cloning' technique. A simple dissecting microscope and micro blade were used to dissect and reconstruct the embryo to effect 'somatic cell nuclear transfer', producing 10 calves. On moving to Denmark, Prof Vajta further developed the technique, and after three years produced cloned pig embryos. These were the first cloned animals produced in Scandinavia. In 2004, Prof Vajta was involved in the production of the first cloned animal (cow) in Africa, produced under very compromised conditions in a small lab close to Pretoria. But the technique was still very demanding, and consequently it has not progressed to widespread use. More recently after taking on a position with CQUniversity, Prof Vajta has been working on a more viable handmade cloning technique in collaboration with local firm Australian Reproductive Technologies (based at Mt Chalmers near Rockhampton). He reports success with the very first attempt. ""It is like starting a car that has been in the garage for 10 years, and winning a Formula 1 race without oil change and tyre pressure adjustment. This result is extremely promising for the future large-scale application - my dream for 12 years," Prof Vajta says. The result of the latest handmade cloning has been successfully implanted, with a pregnancy achieved on the second attempt and a calf due to be born in February. ART Managing Director Simon Walton says the overall goal is to find the best way to commercialise cloning for the benefit of the cattle industry. "Since Dolly the Sheep was produced from one of 273 embryos, cloning has not really taken off. The technique is still expensive at between $15,000-$30,000 per clone and the success rate has only improved to around 1 in 20," Mr Walton says. "The new technique will continue at an experimental level for a while but longer-term the goal is a viable commercial, industrial application."


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