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Learning Center Experience
By Tyra Hall-Pogar, PhDFull-Time Faculty, Department of Science, School of General Education
Almost 20 years ago we were first introduced to Dolly
when on July 5, 1996, the first cloning of a mammal was successful
(Einsiedel et al., 2002). Dolly was a sheep and the first to be cloned from the
DNA found in an adult cell and her name is now synonymous with cloning. During Dolly’s
8-year life she was able to do all of the “normal” things associated with
life including giving birth, but unfortunately, she suffered from symptoms and
diseases indicative of an animal much older in age such as lung disease and
Her early death generated
another wave of concern. Many wondered if cloning had hit a dead-end. It
was determined that Dolly had shortened telomeres—sections of DNA found at
the end of chromosomes. Telomeres have been extensively studied for their role
in aging. Further research and experimentation have taught us that telomeres
can actually be restored in the cloning process and that Dolly most likely
suffered from a different form of premature aging (Giles & Knight, 2003).
From the first announcement of Dolly’s birth, this
impressive genetic feat has been the fuel for many dialogues throughout our
society. Cloning has been heralded as a huge breakthrough that could lead to
advances in regenerative medicine and treatments for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
disease. The other side of this contentious debate asks questions about how we will approach
this new found ability to control nature. The last 20 years has seen additional cloning
experiments with the successful and efficient cloning of cows, horses, and mice—but no humans. We have seen other significant advances as science has marched
on, such as the cultivation of human embryonic stems cells. This feat, once
again, caused a media circus and increased fears of crossing ethical boundaries.
In the end, these happenings have generated many debates and conversations. It
has also led to more research, and as the wheels of science continue to turn,
it will be left to historians to look back and judge the enormity of these accomplishments.
So in closing, if you are ever in Scotland, take a moment to visit with Dolly
and reflect on just some of the amazing feats that science has accomplished
(Wadman, 2007). Dolly is currently on display at the National Museum of
Scotland in Edinburgh.
Einsiedel, E., Allansdottir, A., Allum, N., Bauer, M.W.,
Berthomier, A., Chatjouli, A., de Cheveigné, S., Downey, R., Gutteling, J.M.,
Kohring, M., Leonarz, M., Manzoli, F., Olofsson, A., Przestalski, A., Rusanen,
T., Seifert, F., Stathopoulou, A., Wagner, W. (2002). Brave new sheep:
the clone named Dolly.
Biotechnology: the making of a global controversy, Cambridge: Cambridge
Giles, J., & Knight, J. (2003). Dolly's death leaves
researchers woolly on clone ageing issue. Nature, 421(6925), 776-776.
Wadman, M. (2007). Cloning Special: Dolly: A Decade On.
Nature, 445(7130), 800-801.
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