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Wilmut, Ian

produced sheep cloning dolly

(1944– ) British embryologist: led team which produced the first clone from a mammal (a sheep) using adult cells.

Wilmut studied biology at Nottingham, and worked for his doctorate at Cambridge in embryology. There he studied the effect of freezing on pig semen, and by 1973 he had produced the first calf obtained by using a frozen embryo. From 1974 he was at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh (formerly the Animal Research Breeding Station). From the 1980s he was concerned with cloning. A clone is derived from a single progenitor by asexual means: it therefore has a near-identical genetic constitution. A rooted vegetative cutting is a plant example. In 1995 Wilmut and his co-workers produced two sheep cloned from differentiated embryo cells; but their best-known success was achieved in 1996, when they produced a cloned lamb from the adult cells of its single parent. (The lamb was named Dolly after the singer Dolly Parton.) Cloning of a mammal from adult tissue had been achieved for the first time. The nucleus of a mammary gland cell from a 6-year-old Finn Dorset sheep was implanted into an emptied egg from another sheep, and cell division then triggered by an electric spark. (This step somewhat recalls Mary Shelley’s 19th-c science-fiction novel, Frankenstein .) The embryo was then brought to term in a sheep’s womb to give a lamb (Dolly) genetically identical with the donor of the nucleus. Success came after 450 attempts by the team led by Wilmut at the Roslin Institute. By 1998 clones of mice and calves were made by related methods, at Edinburgh and elsewhere. Animal cloning could be used to replicate ‘elite’ animals: and to produce humanized tissues, organs and proteins for medical use. In principle human cloning is a possibility but is widely seen as undesirable.

Wilson, Charles Kemmons - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: Charles Kemmons Wilson, Social and Economic Impact [next] [back] Wilma

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over 4 years ago

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