Three weeks after the scientific world marked the 20th anniversary of the birth of Dolly the sheep, new research published by The University of Nottingham has shown that four clones derived from the same cell line of Dolly reached their 8th birthdays in good health.
Nottingham's Dollies - Debbie, Denise, Dianna and Daisy - have just celebrated their 9th birthdays and along with nine other clones they are part of a unique flock of cloned sheep under the care of Professor Kevin Sinclair, an expert in developmental biology, in the School of Biosciences.
The research - 'Healthy ageing of cloned sheep' - is the first detailed and comprehensive assessment of age-related non-communicable disease in cloned offspring. It shows that at between seven to nine years of age (60 to 70 in human years) these cloned sheep were showing no long-term detrimental health effects.
Dolly made history as the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell using a technique known as somatic-cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).
Study leader Professor Kevin Sinclair said: "Healthy ageing of SCNT clones has never been properly investigated. There have been no detailed studies of their health. One of the concerns in the early days was that cloned offspring were ageing prematurely and Dolly was diagnosed with osteoarthritis at the age of around five, so clearly this was a relevant area to investigate.
"Following our detailed assessments of glucose tolerance, insulin sensitivity, blood pressure and musculoskeletal investigations we found that our clones, considering their age, were at the time of our research healthy."
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