Yes, I remember Dolly. It was on this date in 1996 that the first cloned mammal was born, and there she is–Dolly! I remember how horrified I was to hear about it! I remember being concerned that this was just the first of many.
I do not understand everything about the science of DNA, but here is a brief history of Dolly’s life. She was born at Roslin Institute in Scotland, and she was the product of three mothers. The process by which she was cloned was somatic cell nuclear transfer where an adult cell nucleus is transferred into unfertilized developing egg cell (oocyte) which has had its nucleus removed. The cell is then subjected to electrical shock and when it has developed, it is put into a surrogate mother. The public was not notified of Dolly’s existence until February 22, 1997. Oh, and the origin of her name? Since it was a mammary cell that was cloned, she was named Dolly in honor of Dolly Parton (think of Dolly Parton’s assets and you just might figure that one out).
Dolly did give birth to a total of six lambs during her relatively short life. She developed arthritis at the age of four, but they successfully treated it with medication. Unfortunately, she had lung disease and progressive arthritis which led to her being euthanized on February 14, 2003. Scientists assured everyone that the cloning process did not make her more susceptible to this lung disease–many in the herd had this disease. Also, since she had to be kept inside rather than outside, this was a contributing factor to this disease.
I was not aware of the fact that more cloning has occurred since that time. In fact, a previously extinct Pyrenean ibex was attempted and initially successful in 2009. I had not realized that Dolly was the only sheep of 277 attempts who had survived to adulthood.
As far as I am concerned, cloning is unethical. There is the concern that one day our meat will be cloned and that we will not even know about it. It’s bad enough that we buy “genetically modified” foods now and most of the time don’t realize it. I can only hope and pray that cloning is something that will be deemed too expensive and not worth continuing.
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