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Dolly the Sheep Didn't Die Prematurely Because She Was a Clone

Dolly the Sheep Didn't Die Prematurely Because She Was a Clone
From Gizmodo - November 23, 2017

Dolly the Sheep made biotech history in 1996 when she became the first animal cloned from adult somatic cells. She lived to the age of seven, which is young for sheep, leading scientists to speculate that her premature death had something to do with her being a clone. New research now shows this wasnt the case.

This whole story can be traced back to a single conference abstract that made brief mention of osteoarthritis in Dollys left knee which appeared when she was just five-and-a-half years old. Sheep typically live to be about 10 or 12, so when Dolly died before the age of seven, scientists figured her premature deathand the early onset arthritiswere somehow related to animal cloning. And in fact, it was soon taken for granted that a consequence of cloning was an early grave.

New research published in Scientific Reports now debunks these early suspicions, showing that Dollys health complications were not the result of cloning, and that Dollys worn out joints werent anything out of the ordinary.

Biologists started to suspect this was the case last year following a study of four eight-year old ewes produced from the same clonal line as Dolly. The researchers uncovered evidence of mild osteoarthritis in three of the sheep, and moderate osteoarthritis in one. Examination of these animals, known as the Nottingham Dollies, suggested these particular clones aged normally, and that Dolly mustve been some kind of anomaly.

But the scientists werent content to stop there.

Our findings of last year appeared to be at odds with original concerns surrounding the nature and extent of osteoarthritis in Dollywho was perceived to have aged prematurely, Kevin Sinclair, lead author of the new paper and professor of developmental biology at the University of Nottingham, said in a statement. Yet no formal, comprehensive assessment of osteoarthritis in Dolly was ever undertaken. We therefore felt it necessary to set the record straight.

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