Three weeks after the scientific world marked the 20th anniversary of the birth of Dolly the sheep new research, published by The University of Nottingham, in the academic journal Nature Communications has shown that four clones derived from the same cell line -- genomic copies of Dolly -- reached their 8th birthdays in good health. Nottingham's Dollies -- Debbie, Denise, Dianna and Daisy -- have just celebrated their 9th birthdays and along with nine other clones they are part of a unique flock of cloned sheep under the care of Professor Kevin Sinclair, an expert in developmental biology, in the School of Biosciences.
The research -- 'Healthy ageing of cloned sheep' -- is the first detailed and comprehensive assessment of age-related non-communicable disease in cloned offspring. Published today, Tuesday 26 July 2016, it shows that at between seven to nine years of age (60 to 70 in human years) these cloned sheep were showing no long-term detrimental health effects.
Dolly made history as the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell using a technique known as somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT). The late, Professor Keith Campbell was instrumental in this pioneering work. In 1999 he joined The University of Nottingham where he continued his research in reproductive biology until his death in 2012. The flock of clones are his legacy to the University.
This latest study was led by Professor Kevin Sinclair, a close colleague of Professor Campbell's.
Professor Sinclair said: "Despite technological advances in recent years' efficiency of SCNT remains low but there are several groups across the world working on this problem at present and there is reason to be optimistic that there will be significant improvements in future. These improvements will stem from a better understanding of the underlying biology related to the earliest stages of mammalian development. In turn this could lead to the realistic prospect of using SCNT to generate stem cells for therapeutic purposes in humans as well as generating transgenic animals that are healthy, fertile and productive. However, if these biotechnologies are going to be used in future we need to continue to test their safety."