HADLEY, Mass. - Charlie, George, and Albert, the world''s first cloned, transgenic calves, which made headlines last January, have moooo-ved from their Franklin, Texas, birthplace, to the Hadley Farm at the University of Massachusetts. Reporters and photographers are invited to a press opportunity at the Hadley Farm, 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Friday, July 31. James Robl, professor of veterinary and animal sciences, with adjunct professor Steve Stice, also of Advanced Cell Technology (ACT), will be on hand to provide an update on the calves, produced through research conducted at the University through a cooperative agreement with ACT.
The calves were produced by Robl, Stice, and Jose Cibelli, who was a UMass graduate student at the time.
FACT SHEET: CHARLIE, GEORGE, AND ALBERT
* Charlie, George, and Albert are the world''s first cloned, transgenic calves. This means that they are genetically identical, but also carry a gene introduced by scientists. They have three genetically identical siblings, Ulysses, Theo, and Joseph, who remain in Franklin, Texas, and will eventually serve as dairy bulls. The six calves were born between January and March of this year at Camp Cooley Ranch in Franklin.
* The calves are Holsteins, and are in good health. Now six months old, they are considered adolescents at around ten months of age, and are fully grown at approximately four years of age.
* Male cattle are referred to as "bulls." Neutered male cattle are referred to as "steers." Charlie, George, and Albert are steers.
* The steers are now approximately 600 pounds each. Holstein steers generally grow to about 2,500 pounds, and have a lifespan of 15 to 20 years.
* The steers live in a pen in the livestock barn, along with sheep, pigs, and fellow cattle. They are fed a diet of hay and grain. Each steer eats about 12-15 pounds of hay and two pounds of grain a day. Plans are for the steers to remain at the Hadley Farm where they will be incorporated into the teaching and outreach programs of the department of veterinary and animal sciences.
* Although Charlie, George, and Albert are genetically identical, their markings, while extremely similar, do vary slightly. Each has a white triangle on his forehead, although the triangle on Albert''s head is smaller than the one on George and Charlie. While all three calves have white forelegs, the white markings creep higher on George''s legs. Each has a white marking at the shoulders, and another on the back, although the markings are a slightly different shape and size on each animal. The markings vary because each embryo develops differently inside a surrogate mother.
* The calves are not the first cattle to be cloned; they are, however, the first to be cloned with a built-in genetic change, introduced by scientists. In Charlie, George, and Albert, the change was a marker gene. Unlike Dolly, the famous cloned sheep, the calves were cloned from fetal cells, rather than from an adult cell.
* The technology has applications in agriculture, potentially making it possible to clone and create herds of the best milk- and meat-producers. There are also possibilities of producing cattle which are resistant to BSE (also called "mad cow disease") or cows which produce therapeutic proteins - medicines for human beings - in their milk.