“The horse is already quite old, more than 20 years old. It’s a champion horse, it participated in the Olympics and has achieved rather good results in its career,” Ma Judong said.
In 2018, the Beijing-based biotech company cloned 20 dogs; in July of last year the first kitten was cloned. Ma Judong stressed that following these successful clonings, the company has included a horse in the research list.
“A horse is a very useful animal; horses’ commercial value is also quite high. Cloned horses and rare animals will certainly contribute to a successful experience; moreover, we also have the needs of clients that we focus on when studying the cloning method,” he said.
A horse is a big animal when compared to a cat or dog. Despite the company's success cloning cats and dogs, there are certain difficulties in horse cloning technologies.
“The horse’s reproductive function's features are such that it can bear no more than one foal, that is, one egg is fertilised during ovulation. In addition, the horse’s pregnancy period is rather long, more than 11 months, about 330 days. These features made it clear that the cloning process would be slow too. Therefore, monitoring the pregnancy's progress is also very important,” Ma Judong pointed out.
“Besides, in terms of technology, when cloning cats or dogs, we can almost immediately transplant a prepared egg. In the case of a horse, the embryo should first mature in vitro to a certain level before it can be transplanted. Therefore, the requirements for in vitro embryo growth are quite high.”
Ma Judong stressed that, in terms of life expectancy and health, cloned animals don’t have any obvious differences from ordinary animals. Therefore, the life expectancy of cloned horses is about the same as that of ordinary horses: about 20 years.
Since the cloned horse is a fast runner, Beijing's Sinogene Biotechnology Company wants to send it to a sports club after it is born, where it will undergo the necessary training to successfully participate in races.