I wanted to share a recent trip I took for a meeting in Dubai. I was giving a lecture on our recent success producing the world’s first baby from 3-parent IVF and our advancements to OOCYTE and EMBRYO CRYOPRESERVATION (egg freezing) using VITRIFICATION. While there, however, a nice detour led me to the Camel Research Center in Dubai.
Camels are central to the culture in the Middle East, providing transportation assistance, milk, and more. Researchers from Dubai, confirmed the first cloned camel to give birth in 2015. This work is fascinating and important. From a reproductive point of view, Camels (and Horses, which are similar) are unique animals from a reproductive point of view. They have abnormally long gestational periods and their embryos are roughly 3 times the size of human embryos. This doesn’t mean it’s easy for them to become pregnant though! To mate naturally, for the camel, is quite an adventure since they don’t have fixed ovulation cycles. Unlike a human, who’s menstrual cycle is roughly a month long, Camels only ovulate when induced (naturally, this happens during mating). They can’t have twins without human assistance, despite having two uterine horns. And while using vitrification for humans embryos and oocytes, I have seen over 95% survival rate and around 70% successful implantation rate, while camel’s are only around 30% for both.
This is why it has been my distinct pleasure to lend my expertise in IVF technologies to help save the North African White Rhino and to assist in Equestrian Fertility. We have seen amazing advances that can be applied to animals like lions and tigers (and bears, Oh MY!) and in the case of the White Rhino, Rhino Surrogacy has been developed and they are slated to be the first species brought back from extinction! It’s all exciting and feels great to use my knowledge of helping humans to help the world we all live in.
Dr Zhang at the Camel Research Center in Dubai and is currently actively involved in the improvement of camel oocytes and embryos.
Recent success stories from the Camel Research Center in Dubai: