First Canada-Wide Research Network for Animal Embryos Launched at Université Laval

    QUEBEC CITY, Feb. 9 /CNW Telbec/ - The first strategic, Canada-wide NSERC
network for animal embryo research was launched today by Université Laval in
collaboration with the University of Alberta. The network, the first of its
kind in the world, aims to better understand the effects of various assisted
reproduction procedures and the mother's pre and post-conception diet and
surrounding environment on bovine and porcine embryos. Data collected will
increase understanding of the effects of different embryo manipulations in all
mammals, including humans.
    "Our research will enable us to develop a tool capable of collecting over
20,000 elements of information (DNA) from an embryo, and analyzing its state
of health. Previously, it was only possible to examine one embryo at a time
using a microscope, and its health was estimated based on appearance,"
explains Professor Marc-André Sirard, EmbryoGENE Network Director.
    This tool will be used by Canadian universities such as Université de
Montréal, McGill, Guelph, and Saskatchewan, and by the industry. Two
universities will act as EmbryoGENE research centers: Université Laval will
coordinate bovine research and University of Alberta will conduct porcine
research. EmbryoGENE has a five-year, $7.9 million research budget, $4.8
million of which comes from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research
Council of Canada (NSERC).
    "Our researchers are working closely with the University of Alberta and
Quebec, Canadian, and American businesses to promote progress in the field,
which will have a substantial impact on Canada's food industry and the
economy," announced Mr. Edwin Bourget, Vice Rector of Research and Creation at
Université Laval.
    "The network, which links both of our universities and a number of other
stakeholders, represents a unique opportunity to play a leading role
internationally in developing new scientific knowledge in reproductive
physiology. The project will generate invaluable discoveries with myriad
applications both at home and abroad," said Mr. George Foxcroft, EmbryoGENE
Network Co-Director at the University of Alberta.
    "The network's directors have proven track records in the fields of
animal genome research and the management of breeding stock," asserts Dr.
Suzanne Fortier, NSERC President. "The network researchers' findings will
boost Canadians' confidence in the security of their food supply, and will
help cattle farmers choose the most effective reproduction methods for their
    Artificial insemination and embryo transfers are just two of the many
ways the Canadian animal reproduction industry uses technology. Currently, 70%
of Canadian pigs and 100% of Canadian dairy cattle are produced using
artificial insemination. Canada is considered to be a world leader in the
exportation of semen (embryos and sperm), which generates over $77 million in
revenue. More than 70 countries including the United States, Mexico, Russia,
and Cuba purchase Canadian pig and dairy cow embryos. The research aims to
make it possible to better qualify these embryos.
    EmbryoGENE was founded by Drs. Marc-André Sirard and Claude Robert from
Université Laval's Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences, in collaboration
with Drs. George Foxcroft and Michael Dyck from the University of Alberta. It
is sponsored by the Canada and Quebec industrial networks for animal
reproduction and nutrition.

For further information:

For further information: Marc-André Sirard, Professor, Institute of
Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods (INAF), Université Laval, (418) 656-2131,
ext. 7359,; Source: Hélène Mélançon, Media
Relations, Université Laval, (418) 656-2131, ext. 7286, Cell Phone: (418)

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