Marc Maserati BS 1999, MS 2013

O Globo Rural, a Brazilian television program featured Marc’s work in a June 2014 broadcast.  Click here  to view the program and see some of Marc’s cloned cows and horses.

Marc is currently a partner and director of somatic cell nuclear transfer at InVitroBrasil Clonagem Animal in Mogi Mirim Brazil.  Marc has been cloning animals since 2001 when he was employed with Advanced Cell Technology and later the cattle cloning spin off company Cyagra.  InVitroBrasil Clonagem Animal has developed the technology for use by farmers, to increase genetically useful animals for breeding purposes, to bring back older genetics of animals that have long since passed and for the production of protein in the milk of transgenic animals for use in human therapies.  In addition, gentlemen farmers have been sold cloning contracts to produce Texas longhorns for competition and others entering the “Club Calf” show circuit.   Cloning bovine has been done on most breeds as well as bovine-like breeds such as the Gaur and Banteg breeds.

Cloning animals initially require s a biopsy from the original animal.  This biopsy is sent to the laboratory where it is made into a cell line.  The cells can be frozen in liquid nitrogen for future use.  Once the decision to clone an animal has been made, the cell line is thawed and matured oocytes, sourced from a local slaughterhouse (bovine) or aspirated from a nearby horse farm (equine), are prepared.    The oocyte’s DNA is illuminated with a fluorescent stain to localize it as it is otherwise undetectable to the eye.  Using a glass needle, the DNA is removed and a cell from the original animal is placed against the oolemma (oocyte cell membrane).  The two cell membranes are then fused to create one cell thereby introducing the nucleus from the original animal into the oocyte.  Fusion is performed in this case through use of a short yet powerful electrical field.  Using chemicals to mimic the fertilization event, the oocyte then becomes an embryo.  The embryo is incubated in embryo culture medium for seven days whereby it becomes a blastocyst.  At this stage, the embryo is transferred into synchronized recipient animals.   Depending on species, the wait is nine (bovine) or eleven (equine) months of gestation prior to birth.  On average, InVitroBrasil Clonagem Animal transfers six embryos to get one live birth in bovine and twenty embryos are transferred to get one live birth in equine.

In Brazil there is heavy emphasis on production of clones in milk and meat breeds.  The animals created are to be used 100% for breeding.  They will not enter the food chain as they are too valuable to send to slaughter.  As the demand for greater quantities of milk and meat are fueled by increased population, the demand for reproductive technology, such as IVF and cloning will increase.   

Marc’s job is to make the technology simple and highly efficient.  As the current efficiency is around 12 percent (embryos transferred/ live calves sent home) Marc has a lot of research to conduct focusing on every aspect cloning from oocyte aspiration from the ovary to how the cloned animals are maintained prior to sending them home and every step in between.  To accomplish this InVitroBrasil Clonagem Animal engages in collaborations with area universities such as the University of São Paulo, Pirasununga to develop novel methods of making identical copies of animals by improving upon the somatic cell nuclear transfer technique.  InVitroBrasil Clonagem Animal also seeks out international collaborations and as such they are currently involved with researchers at Colorado State University to develop IVF technology in the equine.  InVitroBrasil Clonagem Animal is always looking for new collaborations.