Dear ATCNews Readers,
For decades the story of the northern white rhinoceros has been a tale of decline. So today, we are thrilled to announce that two northern white rhino embryos have been successfully matured and fertilised. The two embryos were created using eggs collected from Fatu, the youngest of the two northern white rhinos and frozen sperm from Suni a deceased northern white rhino male.
This landmark effort was achieved at Avantea Laboratories in Cremona, Italy thanks to Prof. Cesare Galli and his team. The embryos are now stored in liquid nitrogen and will be transferred into a surrogate mother in the near future.
“We brought ten oocytes back from Kenya, five from each female. After incubation seven matured and were suitable for fertilisation (four from Fatu and three from Najin)”, says Galli. “Fatu’s eggs were injected with Suni’s sperm while Najin’s eggs were injected with Saut’s sperm using a procedure called ICSI (Intra Cytoplasm Sperm Injection). Saut’s semen was of really poor quality and we had to thaw additional samples to find viable sperms for ICSI. After ten days of incubation, two of Fatu’s eggs developed into viable embryos that were cryopreserved for future transfer. Najin’s eggs did not make it to a viable embryo despite the fact that one egg initiated segmentation.”
The entire team has been developing and planning these procedures for years, and this development marks an important breakthrough in saving the species from near extinction.