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Cryobank for Camels in the Heart of UAE Desert

In today’s rapidly advancing world of science and technology, we are witnessing breakthroughs that were once unimaginable. These innovations, including the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI), are not only transforming our lives but also offering solutions to preserve our past for future generations.

In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a unique initiative is underway to safeguard the genetic diversity of its iconic residents: camels. The Camel Reproduction Centre of the UAE has partnered with AVARE Infotech, a provider of biotech services with an AI-powered cell analysis platform to help animal farms increase productivity and preserve biodiversity, said AVARE’s medical director and co-founder, Dr. Svetlana Pervykh.

The goal of the cooperation is to create a biological material bank for these hump-backed mammals and to extend the application of these cutting-edge technologies to other areas, such as natural and artificial reproduction, as well as the preservation of heritage, according to Dr. Pervykh, an international cryobank expert from Russia.

The UAE projects will be carried out in the framework of Islamic finance and AVARE together with its UAE counterparts are now looking for a mufti to accompany the project, Dr. Pervykh said.

“We are aligned with the principle of Islamic banking – the absence of additional interest and complete transparency of the contract and interaction,” she added.

The UAE is known for its rich camel culture, with these animals being of special significance in the region. As a leader in global developments across business, medicine and technology, the UAE made a significant breakthrough when in 1998 scientists at the Camel Reproduction Centre successfully created a new animal, a hybrid of a camel and a llama. This scientific endeavor received financial support from the Crown Prince and Defense Minister of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, underscoring the sheikhs’ commitment to advancing camel-related sciences and preserving their cultural heritage.

Since then, science has made significant strides by utilizing AI technologies to address various challenges. Currently, scientists at the Camel Reproduction Centre, situated in the Arabian desert near Dubai, are collaborating with AVARE to develop and select specialized cryoagents and cryoliquids to preserve camel cells through freezing.

The Camel Reproduction Centre and AVARE initiated their collaboration on Dec. 1, and starting from February 2024, Dr. Pervykh along with her team of IT and biotech experts will also collaborate with Dubai’s Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), she said.

“The camels of the UAE are very different and unique. Our goal is to preserve the best species for future generations of Emiratis and for the rest of the world,” Dr.Pervykh said. “In the future, it will be possible to reproduce and clone camels by using the female and male reproductive cells that we will store in our cryobanks.”

As global climate change continues, animal biodiversity faces significant threats, a reality underscored by WHO statistics showing annual species loss. Cryobanks, originally developed to conserve embryos, eggs, and gametes from various animal species, are facing a formidable challenge: many samples are resistant to preservation through freezing, failing to withstand the process.

This presents a significant challenge for camels as 9 out of 10 camel samples cannot be preserved through freezing, according to Dr. Pervykh. Preserving cells for humans is even more straightforward for humans than for camels and some horse species. Additionally, camels pose a unique challenge for cryo technologies due to their longer lifespans, making them more prone to age-related illnesses.

The cryobank industry, still in its early stages of development, holds great promise for the future. Cryobank “deposits” can be traded on electronic platforms and passed down to children or grandchildren, similar to digital assets. They represent a form of bio-deposits that could become as stable as currency, resilient to crises, and capable of yielding inheritance and profit through storage.

These transactions are facilitated by the cryobank’s autonomous system, which requires only electricity to operate, without the need for human intervention.

Dr. Pervykh said AVARE is currently working to address this issue with insurance companies. While insurance products for cryobank deposits don’t exist yet, they are expected to emerge in the future.