Dolly The Sheep Didn't Die Prematurely Because She Was A Clone


Soon, reports came out presenting concerns that perhaps Dolly suffered from early onset osteoarthritis as a result of her being a clone, leading to debates regarding the possibility of early onset of diseases among cloned animals.

The world's first animal cloned from an adult cell, was born in Edinburgh in 1996 and died in 2003 aged six.

There have been claims the cloning process led her to age prematurely and left her vulnerable to diseases linked to ageing, including osteoarthritis, resulting in her joints wearing out before their time.

Research published previous year by Sinclair's group found that Dolly aged well.

Dolly, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, made countless headlines during her lifetime. A new investigation of the cloned sheep's bones by scientists at the Universities of Glasgow and Nottingham suggests Dolly showed no signs of abnormal aging.

Kevin Sinclair, a professor of developmental biology at University of Nottingham in Leicestershire, told The Register that Dolly also developed osteoarthritis.

The findings from a year ago, which were also conducted by a team led by Sinclair, found that 13 cloned sheep had no long-term detrimental health problems. The researchers uncovered evidence of mild osteoarthritis in three of the sheep, and moderate osteoarthritis in one.

The concerns around Dolly and early onset of arthritis have only one basis in any formal record about her, according to Sinclair. However, records state that Dolly had osteoarthritis only on the left knee. Since Sinclair and his colleagues couldn't find any corroborating document, they made a decision to investigate themselves, using radiographic assessment. They show that the skeletons, stored in the collections of National Museums Scotland in Edinburgh, bear radiographic OA similar to that observed in naturally conceived sheep and Nottingham's healthy aged clones.

Contrary to original concerns regarding the death of a cloned sheep named Dolly, new research finds that her death had nothing to do with her being a clone. Still, Sinclair said "records of Dolly's arthritis weren't preserved".

A copy of the research paper that supports the findings of this study are available from the University of Nottingham on request.

However, a study a year ago of cloned ewes Debbie, Denise, Dianna and Daisy, who were derived from the cell line that gave rise to Dolly - found evidence of only mild or, in one case, moderate osteoarthritis.

The Atlantic reports that since Dolly was cloned, a whole menagerie of other animals has been cloned as well: pigs, dogs, cats, monkeys etc. Studies that followed such clones found that their telomeres were shorter, normal or even longer. Professor Sinclair and his team are now undertaking detailed molecular studies to gain a greater insight into the ageing process.