x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

How to successfully clone a camel

The cells used to clone Injaz were taken from a camel slaughtered for meat in 2005.

The cells used to clone Injaz were taken from a camel slaughtered for meat in 2005. They were grown in an incubator at 38C and as soon as scientists had enough material, frozen in liquid nitrogen at minus 196C. Some were later revived. Their DNA-bearing nuclei were extracted and inserted into egg cells taken from Injaz's surrogate mother, from which nuclei had been removed. Once a new nucleus was in a host egg, electric pulses were used to fuse the two together. The next challenge was to "jump-start" the division process by which the cells multiply and form an embryo.

The main difficulty to be overcome was that adult cells, such as the original ones cultivated, are generally not able to multiply naturally. A cocktail of chemicals was used to assist the "reprogramming" of the cells. Once division had begun, the next challenge was to insert the cells into the surrogate mother. In camels, this procedure is complicated and potentially dangerous for the animal. Dr Nisar Wani developed a method of growing the embryo, allowing it to develop in an incubator that simulated a natural mother camel.

Once an embryo was deemed viable, it was inserted into the surrogate mother using the same in-vitro fertilisation process that human surrogate mothers can have. Even once all that has been achieved, there is still not much chance of success; Injaz is the only calf to have been born successfully from 400 embryos and seven induced pregnancies.