Embrapa Genetic Resources and Biotechnology (DF) presented to the market on Tuesday (29) a technology called TIFOI (intrafollicular transfer of immature oocytes). It is a biotechnology that has all the advantages of in vitro fertilization (IVF) with an additional benefit: the fact that it does not need a laboratory to be performed. Breeders can get the embryos as fast and agile as IVF, that is, around one calf per week from a single donor cow, without having to leave their farm.

Brazil is the first country to succeed in carrying out TIFOI in a complete way. There is only one report of success in the use of the technique in Germany. However, the European experiment used a laboratory in the course of the process, which makes the result incomplete. The development of the Brazilian TIFOI resulted in the birth of three calves at the Sucupira Farm, an experimental field of Embrapa located in Brasília (DF).The success generated the registration of the mark next to the National Institute of Industrial Property (INPI).

IVF is today the biotechnology most used in animal genetic improvement in Brazil, for the ability to increase the number of descendants of a cow in less time. In order to have an idea of the potentiality of the reproductive biotechniques of greater impact used today in the global cattle industry, it can be estimated that the artificial insemination (IA) allows the obtaining of one calf per year; The classical embryo (ET) transfer one per month; While IVF is able to produce one calf per week.

The cow is the laboratory

According to Embrapa’s researcher Margot Dode, IVF represented a significant improvement over other biotechnologies. Therefore, it is no wonder that it is the most used in Brazil today. The country is the world leader in the production of bovine embryos, with 450 thousand of the 600 thousand embryos produced worldwide.

Embryos produced in vitro are those obtained outside the maternal organism under laboratory conditions. In this process, the oocytes (ova) are aspirated prematurely, still immature, and then matured and fertilized in the laboratory. Seven days later they are transferred to the receiving cows, or surrogate mothers.

Brazil's first to produce embryos without laboratory
Three calves resulting from TIFOI. The photo makes clear the difference between them and the one born from the same ovulator.

One of the disadvantages of this technique is that the embryos produced under laboratory conditions are inferior in quality to the embryos produced in the maternal organism and, therefore, are less resistant to freezing and many of them are incapable of maintaining gestation.

And that is where TIFOI’s biggest advantage lies. The whole process is done inside the animal itself. Roughly, the cow is the laboratory. The eggs are aspirated in the same way as in IVF, but instead of being matured in the laboratory, they are grown inside the body of an animal (ovulatory), taking advantage of its natural reproductive process. After ovulation, the eggs are fertilized by artificial insemination (AI). Seven days later, the embryos that were developed are collected and transferred to the recipient cow (surrogate), similar to what occurs in the classical transfer of embryos. “In addition to the fact that the embryos are produced naturally in the female’s reproductive tract, the technique dispenses with all laboratory components,” Margot says.

The whole process occurs naturally taking advantage of the physiological events of the ovulatory cow, which gives the embryos more quality. “In addition, by dispensing with the need for a laboratory, it significantly reduces the final costs of production,” adds the researcher. “In addition to maintaining all the advantages of IVF, TIFOI eliminates the disadvantages,” he concludes.

Transfer to the productive sector

The next step is to increase efficiency and transfer technology to the productive sector, which should be done from courses and publications.

Carlos Monteiro is a Brazilian citizen, graduated in Business Administration by the Catholic University of São Paulo. He lives in Odense, Denmark with his Danish Wife, Cathrine, and their half Danish /Brazilian daughter Ines Marie. You are very welcome to be in contact him at any time.

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