Avantea is a centre for advanced animal reproductive technologies and for biothecnological research. Avantea activity is well known worldwide for its leadership in the fields of animal cloning (the first bull and the fisrt horse were cloned at Avantea in Cremona) and of assisted reproduction technologies. Animal cloning became the main technique trough which to generate genetical modified large animal, in particular the pig.

Avantea is the prime contractor of the Superpig project and as well as coordinating the project, it also plays a role in the development of engineered cells, as well as the generetaion of pigs through the somatic cloning.

In particular, its contribution to the project relates to:

  • animals cloning through the nucleus transpantation technique  in order to obtain desired genotypes (Galli et al, Cloning 1: 161, 1999, Galli et al, Nature, 424:635, 2003);
  • the improvement of survival after implantation of cloned embryos;
  • the safety of products derived from cloned animals;
  • the production of embryonic stem cells for the development of reproducible and safe transgenic animal models for the disease resistance and for xenotransplantation;
  • the production of cells from autologous sources to develop models of cell therapy in large animal models (Lombardo et al, Nat. Biotech. 2007; Brown et al, Nat Biotech. 2007).

Avantea team contributes to the project with its skills and intellectual property in the field of assisted reproduction, cloning, genetic modification, breeding and reproduction of transgenic animals (Brunetti et al, 2008). Avantea is the only laboratory in Italy that offers this technology and one of four in Europe (there are two in Germany and one in Denmark).

Avantea carries out research activity within European and national projects. Its research team includes twelve member of staff (including scientists and technicians). Prof. Cesare Galli is the scientific coordinator of subproject 1. He is the founder and Managing director of Avantea. Prof. Galli developed his expertise abroad first and then in Italy in the field of assisted reproduction and animal cloning. In 2008 he obtained in Budapest the Simmet Award of ICAR for Animal Reproduction, an international recognition for his important scientific contribution. He is also an associate professor at the University of Bologna where he teaches Biotechnology of Animal reproduction.

Dr. Giovanna Lazzari, scientific director of Avantea, si also involved in the present project. She acquired many years of professional experience in Cambridge (UK) where she worked focusing on gametes and embryos in large animals. Her interested moved then also on in vitro embryo development and the effects of in vitro culture conditions on embryonic and fetal development. Her research activity is currently focusing on cell cultures of somatic cells and embryonic stem cells and their differentiation in vitro and in vivo.

The project activity is also supported by Dr. Irina Lagutina, her area of interest is somatic cloning, by Dr. Silvia Colleoni, who has many years experience in the culture and differentiation of stem cells, and the by Dr. Andrea Perota involved in the cloning of the genes and the construction of vectors for transformation.