It was in last November that Iman, the last Sumatran rhino in Malaysia took its last breath. The death of Iman shocked nature lovers, as it brought the endangered species one step close towards ultimate extinction. Now, a team of Malaysian scientists is planning to use tissues and cells of Iman and other rhinos to bring them back from dead.
Stem Cell Technology Holds the Key
This milestone research will be carried out by scientists at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). Researchers are planning to make use of stem cell technology and in-vitro fertilization to bring back the endangered population of Sumatran rhinos.
Dr Muhammad Lokman Bin Md. Isa, one of the lead researchers of this study revealed that the process they are going to adopt is very similar to cloning where a new baby will be created using cells of old rhinos.
"Before the three rhinos (the last survivors in Malaysia) died, we got their cells, and the cells are still alive -- which is why I'm quite confident. If you don't have any cells, or if we just had tissue that aren't living anymore, we can't do anything with that. We can only put it in a book or museum. But now we have a living thing that we can use," said Lokman, CNN reports.
How to Recreate Sumatran Rhinos?
According to researchers who are taking part in this project, they have collected stem cells, which are basically raw materials from cells, from where specific functions can be generated.
There are two ways through which this recreation process can be materialized. The first method is by converting these stem cells into an egg and sperm. Later, the embryo created should be implanted into a surrogate mother.
The second method which the scientists may adopt is taking the egg of a surrogate animal. Later, the nucleus of this egg should be removed, and it should be joined with a Sumatran rhino's somatic cell. Interestingly, this technique was used to close the famous sheep Dolly in 1996.
The move of Lokman and his team are receiving widely positive responses from all corners. Environmentalists believe that such steps should be carried out to save several species from falling into the clutches of extinction.