JUL 04, 2016 08:52 AM PDT

Remembering Dolly, the First Adult Clone, 20 Years Later

WRITTEN BY: Carmen Leitch
Remember Dolly, the world’s first cloned mammal? Nature takes a look back with the scientists who created her in this video. They reveal some fun little details, such as when Karen Walker, an embryologist, had to incubate her cells in her bra so that they would remain at the proper temperature when she shuttled them between laboratories.
July 5 1996 was Dolly’s birth date, and she had been created on February 8, 1996. Both Walker and her colleague Bill Ritchie, also an embryologist, remember the day as a lousy one in the lab. They worked in a small, cramped room and on that particular day, they’d had numerous issues arise with infections and such. While transgenic cows would have been of more value to industry, the scientists were focusing on using sheep because the reproductive biology is well known, they are smaller, and cheaper.

Ritchie and Walker did much of the work that went into creating Dolly. They were working at the Roslin Institute on a project that aimed to create precise genetic alterations in farm animals. The research team leader, embryologist Ian Wilmut, thought that they could make those changes by altering the genome of a cell in culture. The nucleus of that cell, containing the changed DNA would then be transferred to a new cell. The scientists discuss the technical accuracy required for such delicate procedures – even a hangover could cause their hands to shake too much.
Ian Wilmut, shown with Dolly who is on display at the National Museum of Scotland.
Photo from Reuters
 
Ritchie explains, “The simple way of describing nuclear transfer is that you take an oocyte, an unfertilized egg, and you remove the chromosomes. You then take a complete cell which contains both male and female chromosomes - all of our cells do, apart from the gonads. You take that cell and fuse it to the enucleated egg, activate it - which starts it growing - and transfer it to a surrogate mother. Hopefully, with your fingers crossed, you will get a cloned offspring, a copy of the animal you've taken that cell from.”

Remarks Walker, “Tedious is absolutely the word. You're sitting, looking down a microscope and you've got both hands on the micromanipulators. It's kind of like the joysticks kids use nowadays on games. If your elbow slipped, you could wipe the whole dish out.”

The researchers have some nostalgia about their work, and return to the laboratories where Dolly was made. They also relate the hysteria, and the sheer volume of feedback that came along with the announcement of their discovery.

Ian Wilmut reminds us “Dolly is described as the first mammal cloned from an adult cell. She's actually the first adult clone, period. She's often undersold.”

Source: Nature
 
About the Author
  • Experienced research scientist and technical expert with authorships on 28 peer-reviewed publications, traveler to over 60 countries, published photographer and internationally-exhibited painter, volunteer trained in disaster-response, CPR and DV counseling.
You May Also Like
AUG 13, 2018
Cell & Molecular Biology
AUG 13, 2018
In a First, Stem Cell Therapy for Parkinson's in Human Patients
A clinical trial that is the first of its kind has been started in Japan....
AUG 13, 2018
Microbiology
AUG 13, 2018
Insight Into the Origins of Junk DNA - From Koalas
The human genome isn't only genes. There's also long, repetitive sequences with an unknown function and origin....
AUG 24, 2018
Microbiology
AUG 24, 2018
How the E. coli Bacterium Can Benefit Us
Often thought of as a dangerous germ, it seems that E. coli may be playing a helpful role in the uptake of iron....
SEP 20, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 20, 2018
Liquid Phase Separation may Play a Role in Cancer
Not all liquids mix, like oil and water; the phenomenon is called liquid-liquid phase separation. We're learning more about its role in cells....
OCT 01, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 01, 2018
Digging Into the Details of DNA Replication
Cells have to carry around a huge amount of genetic material, and usually that DNA is about 1000 times longer than the cell where it lives....
OCT 04, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
OCT 04, 2018
Similar Processes Drive the Development of Lung and Prostate Cancers
Small cell cancers often have poor prognoses....
Loading Comments...