Dolly the sheep goes on display at museum

Thursday, April 10, 2003

LONDON -- The preserved body of Dolly the sheep, who gained worldwide fame as the world's first mammal cloned from an adult, went on display Wednesday at a Scottish museum.

Dolly, whose birth in 1996 was heralded as a scientific landmark but triggered heated debate about the ethics of cloning, was put to death Feb. 14 after a veterinarian confirmed she had a fatal lung disease. She was 6.

Her creators at the Roslin Institute in Scotland said there was no evidence that cloning was a factor in Dolly contracting the disease, Sheep Pulmonary Adenomatosis, a virus-induced lung tumor that commonly affects sheep of her age.

The institute donated Dolly's remains to the National Museums of Scotland, where her skin was pickled and tanned to preserve it before being stretched over a fiberglass mold of her body and mounted on a straw-covered plinth.

Ian Wilmut, who led the team which cloned Dolly, said Wednesday that his pride at seeing her on display at Edinburgh's Royal Museum was tinged with sadness at her death from the lung tumor.

"It's not so many weeks ago since she was alive and in the barn, but we're very proud that's she in here," he said. "She will go on reminding people of the fact that scientific progress was made in Edinburgh which is making people think very differently about this aspect of biology."

Dolly's birth created an international sensation because although researchers had previously cloned sheep from fetal and embryonic cells, it was unknown whether an adult cell could reprogram itself to develop into a new being. Her arrival heightened concerns that human cloning was around the corner.

She was created by clearing the genetic material out of an egg and replacing it with that of a cell taken from the breast of an adult ewe. The reconstructed egg was then submerged in chemicals and zapped with electricity to stimulate it to divide and become an embryo. The embryo which was to become Dolly was then implanted into the womb of a sheep.

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