Little Bits of History

Hello, Dolly

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 22, 2013
Dolly

Dolly

February 22, 1997: The Roslin Institute, a government research facility in Edinburg, Scotland, announces the successful cloning of a sheep named Dolly, born on July 5, 1996. Dolly was the first mammal to be successfully cloned from an adult somatic cell (one from any part of the body rather than a gamete which is an egg or sperm). They used a process called nuclear transfer. This cloning technique proved that genetic material could be manipulated to express only a “distinct subset of genes” and therefore be programmed to make an entirely new organism.

To get Dolly – whose original cell came from a mammary gland and who was named after Dolly Parton for obvious reasons – was difficult. There were 277 eggs used which resulted in 29 embryos. Of those embryos, only three lambs were born and of those three, only one lived. There have been other farm mammals cloned as well as various other fish, pets, and creatures. Seventy calves have been born after making 9,000 attempts with fully one-third of them dying young. Prometea, a foal, was born after 328 attempts.

Dolly was a Fin Dorset sheep and should have lived 12-15 years. She was euthanized on November 11, 2003 at the age of six. There was debate over her cause of death. Autopsy confirmed that Dolly had a common retrovirus, Ovine Pulmonary Adenocarcinoma (Jaagsiekte), a progressive lung disease. Autopsy also showed that Dolly had unusually short telomeres which normally is the result of aging. Some scientists insist that Dolly’s cellular age at birth was six years as that was the age of the donor sheep and that her telomeres at death were the appropriate size for a 12-year-old sheep.

Cloning raises many ethical questions. The debate increased in 1952 when scientists first announced they had cloned a tadpole. Although the experiment could not be duplicated, ethicists were willing to point out the dangers intrinsic to the procedure. Some religions find the entire process an abomination before God. Others fear that human cloning will be misused or that the clones will be unstable, unhappy, non-distinct creatures used solely as spare parts for the parent.

“The cloning of humans is on most of the lists of things to worry about from Science, along with behavior control, genetic engineering, transplanted heads, computer poetry and the unrestrained growth of plastic flowers.” – Lewis Thomas

“Cloning is the sincerest form of flattery.” – unknown

“The possible cloning of human beings is now not relegated to the world of fiction, and the question to the world is this – what should we do with this science?” – James Greenwood

“Human cloning will take place, and it will take place in my lifetime. And I don’t fear it at all – I welcome it. I think it’s right and proper that we continue this kind of inquiry.” – Tom Harkin

This article first appeared at Examiner.com in 2010. Editor’s update: The Roslin Institute has been part of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies within the College of Medicine of The University of Edinburgh since 2008. They now have over 400 staff and students working to “enhance the lives of animals and humans” via their world class research into animal biology. They have studied spongiform encephalopathies (mad cow disease) trying to determine how it is transmitted. They have also been able to create a genetically modified chicken which could produce eggs containing a protein needed to make cancer-fighting drugs. In 1997, they were able to clone two more sheep, Polly and Molly, both of which contained a human gene.

Also on this day: Copy Rights – In 1774, perpetual copyrights were banned by House of Lords.
Grady the Cow – In 1949, a cow got stuck in a silo and made national news.
The White Rose – In 1943, three young adults were executed.

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