Dolly, born on 5 July 1996, was the first mammal cloned using an adult cell. The cell was taken from the mammary gland of an old ewe - hence the name, an affectionate tribute to the buxom American singer Dolly Parton. Until Dolly appeared, scientists had thought this feat was impossible.
When the news became public the following year, it caused a sensation. Ian Wilmut (born 1944), who led the research team that created Dolly at the Roslin Institute, near Edinburgh, admits to being shocked both by the scale and the hostility of the response to this ‘reproduction without the act of sex’.
Subsequent work suggested that the method used by Wilmut’s team - nuclear transfer - could turn a skin cell from a patient into an embryo which could be dismantled for stem cells. These stem cells, ‘parents’ of all cell types, could then be used to repair a damaged body. Although this has been superseded by another method, cloning has been used to clone elite animals for farming, breeding and racing, and to help preserve endangered species.
- Roslin Institute, The University of Edinburgh
- Key Individuals
- Roslin Institute, Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell,