One of the advantages of embryo transfer is the ability to biopsy the embryos in an attempt to diagnose different genetic traits or determine gender. The ability to do so has existed for several years and the amount of genetic information that can be realized is ever expanding as geneticists learn more and tests become available to identify particular alleles.
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Recent Updates on Freezing Equine Embryos
The majority of equine embryos are collected from the donor mare and transferred immediately as fresh embryos or shipped cooled to a recipient station for transfer within 24 hr. You can learn more about the basics of embryo transfer (ET) in our article, Embryo Transfer and Frequently Asked Questions. Very few equine embryos are frozen despite the numerous advantages of embryo cryopreservation. We discuss the process of freezing embryos in our article, Cryopreservation of Equine Embryos. However here is a quick review of some of the advantages of freezing embryos:
Embryo Transfer and Frequently Asked Questions
By now, most people in the breeding industry know what embryo transfer (ET) is however there is still a little confusion or misconception. I would say that the increased use and knowledge of in vitro fertilization, popularly referred to as ICSI (Intracytoplasmic Sperm Injection), has led to some of this confusion. We hear people interchanging the words embryo and egg as if they are the same thing. Let’s take a minute to draw a simple distinction between the two procedures.
Cryopreservation of Equine Embryos
Embryo vitrification doesn't sound much like "freezing embryos,” but the end product certainly is a cryopreserved equine embryo, frozen in liquid nitrogen for the preservation of genetics and transfer into a recipient mare at a later time. For the sake of some readers of this blog, an embryo is the result of fertilizing an oocyte (egg) with sperm and allowing the initial stages of development to occur. Embryo vitrification is the process whereby we freeze equine embryos for storage for indefinite periods of time prior to transfer into a recipient mare. We have the technology to cryopreserve equine sperm and equine embryos, but not equine oocytes. Herein lays the answer to the most common question that comes up in conversation regarding this blog topic. Some readers assume that since we can freeze the male generated sperm, we can likewise freeze the female generated oocyte. Unfortunately, due to some very sensitive cytoskeletal components in the oocyte, the technology does not exist to freeze equine oocytes. As we proceed, you will understand the process of embryo vitrification and we will delve into areas of research that are improving the success rates of vitrified embryos in generating live foals.