Dubai centre produces first cloned Bactrian camel

Dubai centre produces first cloned Bactrian camel

Dubai - The camel was produced using a technique called interspecies somatic cell nuclear transfer.


Bernd Debusmann Jr.

Published: Thu 18 May 2017, 4:21 PM

Last updated: Thu 18 May 2017, 6:31 PM

In yet another impressive "World's First" for the UAE, researchers at the Reproductive Biotechnology Centre in Dubai have produced the first cloned Bactrian camel, which scientists are calling an important step towards preserving the critically endangered species.

The camel was produced using a technique called interspecies somatic cell nuclear transfer, in which the Bactrian camel calf was cloned from a dromedary (one humped) camel who carried the pregnancy to term.

The Bactrian calf produced in the study was born without any complications or abnormalities, but developed acute hypothermia on the seventh day of his life and died within a couple of hours, showing signs of shock and acute septicemia. A post-mortem conducted by the research team confirmed that the death was the result of E Coli, a common cause of death in camel calves.

A research report on the cloning published in Plos One notes that wild Bactrian camels are the eighth most endangered large mammal on the planet, with approximately 600 left in China's Gobi desert and 800 in Mongolia.

Dr Nisar Ahmad Wani, who led the scientific team in the project, said that the study has opened the doors to the preservation of wild Bactrian camels.

"We need to establish the cell lines from as many wild and captive wild Bactrian camels as possible for storage in our cell and gene banks," he noted. "In case of a population collapse, these cells could be used to produce and restore the genetic diversity of these animals by using this technique."

"In case of endangered species, we have a limited number of animals and cannot use them as the source for oocytes or related experiments. Our study has opened the doors for multiplication of Bactrian camels using dromedary camels, which are in abundance," he added.
"There are different groups in the world who are working on cloning a critically endangered or restoring an extinct species by using another related species for the raw material, and for carrying the baby to term. Only few have been successful so far in producing such babies, including us."

The high-tech Reproductive Biotechnology Centre - which was established under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council - has a mandate to develop and apply the latest advancements in biotechnology techniques to enhance the production of animals in the region.

In April 2009, the Center saw the birth of the world's first cloned dromedary camel - named Injaz, which is Arabic for 'achievement' - who was created using the ovarian cells of a camel slaughtered in 2005, which were then in tissue culture and frozen in liquid nitrogen. In November 2015, Injaz became a mother.

Since Injaz was born, the Reproductive Biotechnology Centre has produced dozens of other cloned camels. In 2012, another camel clone - a black dromedary named "Sooty" - became the first camel cloned using the cells of a beauty pageant queen.

Since the birth of the world's first cloned animal, a Scottish-born sheep named Dolly, in 2006, a wide variety of animals have been cloned, including cattle, horses, dogs, water buffalo and wolves.

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