The very first successful project of test tube puppies is upon us, and aren’t they cute? Although humans were conceived with in vitro fertilization in 1978, when Louise Brown was born, millions of children have been given life since, using the test tube method. Scientists united human eggs with sperm in petri dishes before implanting them into thrilled mothers. But this is the first time puppies have been born successfully from test tubes.
The conglomeration of Labrador, beagle, and cocker spaniel are now 5-months-old and healthy as can be. There were seven of them, and all but one female has been adopted out. The lab is holding onto one female for future testing, but even Dr. Alexander Travis, in charge of the test tube puppy experiment got in on the fun. He’s keeping two of the puppies for himself and keeping their given names of Red and Green, indicative of the nail polish they wore to identify themselves to the laboratory. Some may have thought it was in the spirit of Christmas.
They came from the same litter, but because they are in vitro, they have different mothers and fathers. They were all born at the same time and raised together. Some people believe that this method of creating test tube puppies is messing with Mother Nature. But the true purpose is intended is preserving endangered species, particularly red wolves, the Ethiopian wolf, and the African painted dog.
This method also helps scientists in determining genetic malfunctions in domestic dogs so they can prevent them in the future, or replace the gene with a healthy one before the puppies see the light of day. Even though this is just a starting point, test tube puppies is a great place to begin.
Many other species have been birthed and developed through this method including monkeys, cattle, and cats, but not dogs. The reason it’s taken decades for the puppies to be a success in this experiment is because the biology of canines varies so much from humans and other animals. Of course mature eggs are needed for IVF to be successful, but since dogs only go into heat once or twice a year, releasing immature eggs, it’s hit or miss to even try for the test tube pups. With a human, as soon as ovulation occurs, usually monthly, the egg is prepared for fertilization. With dogs, aside from the twice a year disadvantage, there’s an extra step of the egg needing to mature in the oviduct, or as we’re more familiar with, the Fallopian tube for several days.
This isn’t the first achievement Cornell has had in reproductive science. In 2013, Klondike was born as the first puppy born from a frozen embryo, after his mother was artificially inseminated. Still, with the great strides science is making to preserve dogs. Collies have problems with their eyes, and Dalmatians get urinary stones. Golden Retrievers get certain types of cancer. Dogs, in general, end up with a lot of the same ailments humans have. According to Travis, over 350 diseases we share with our canine friends and this is a great step in preventing them for both the dogs and humankind.
While some people consider sci-fi cloning encroaching on the rights of Mother Nature, others see test tube puppies as another leap in keeping life alive with curing diseases and preventing them from happening in the first place. With science abounding, why not? So whether we paint all the test tube puppies’ nails red and green, it’s pretty certain they’ll feel loved by anyone who comes in contact with their wiggly tails and flopping ears.
[Image of Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine/GettyImages]