In Brief

World's first IVF puppies born in the US – in pictures

The breakthrough could help the understanding of inherited diseases in dogs and humans

American scientists have produced the world's first 'test-tube' puppies after years of attempts.

The seven beagle and cross-bred beagle-spaniel puppies were born to a surrogate mother, and despite being from the same litter they have three sets of parents.

Frozen embryos were placed in a female dog in a process similar to the one used in human fertility clinics, say researchers from Cornell University.

"We have seven normal happy healthy puppies," said lead researcher Dr Alex Travis in a report in the scientific journal Plos One.

"Since the mid-1970s, people have been trying to do this in a dog and have been unsuccessful," he added.

"Now we can use this technique to conserve the genetics of endangered species."

Previous attempts at IVF in dogs have failed due to the complexity of the canine reproductive system. However, the scientists from Cornell were able to achieve the breakthrough after closely studying previous failures.

The puppies were born in the summer but their existence was kept secret until the findings were formally announced to the scientific world this week.

They have reportedly been named Ivy, Cannon, Beaker, Buddy, Nelly, Red and Green, and all but one has gone to a new home.

"The procedure could transform attempts to save endangered dog species, and potentially help prevent the genetic disorders that afflict so many breeds," says The Guardian.

Prof David Argyle from the University of Edinburgh told the BBC that new techniques used in the process could help the understanding of inherited diseases in dogs and humans.

"Importantly, it is becoming apparent that dogs and humans share many common biology, diseases and syndromes, and it is likely that these new techniques could have significant benefit for the study of human diseases as well as canine diseases," he added.

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