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Cloning Organisms - Cloning Of Mammals: Dolly

sheep cells cloned surrogate

Nuclear transplantation has also been successful in producing mammalian clones, most notably of sheep, cattle, pigs, and mice. The most famous cloned mammal is a sheep named "Dolly," the first animal to be cloned directly from an adult cell. Experiments leading to the birth of Dolly were done at the Roslin Institute with collaborators at Pharmaceutical Proteins Limited, both in Scotland. This group had earlier produced Megan and Morag, the first mammals to be cloned from cultured cells. These two sheep were produced from embryonic cells, however, not from cells of an adult animal.

Dolly was born in the summer of 1996, the product of a nucleus from the mammary gland of a six-year-old female Finn-Dorsett sheep and an egg from a Scottish Blackface female. Mammary gland cells were grown in a petri dish and were deprived of nutrients so that they would stop dividing, just like an unfertilized egg. Donor eggs were taken from sheep soon after ovulation, and nuclei were mechanically removed from them. These enucleated eggs were then fused with the cultured mammary gland cells so that a mammary gland nucleus would be inside an unfertilized egg. Two hundred and seventy-seven such embryos were constructed and temporarily allowed to divide in a petri dish, and then all of them were transferred into the oviduct of a temporary surrogate mother. Of the original 247 embryos, only 29 developed further, and these were transferred to 13 hormonally treated surrogate mothers.

Only one surrogate mother became pregnant, and she only had one live lamb, named Dolly. The success rate was very low, but Dolly has been proven to be a true clone: She has all the characteristics of a Finn-Dorsett sheep. Independent scientists used a technique called DNA fingerprinting to show that Dolly's DNA matched the donor mammary cells but did not match that of other sheep in the Finn-Dorsett flock, nor did her DNA match that of her surrogate mother or the egg donor. Similar results have been obtained by Ryuzo Yanagimachi at the University of Hawaii, who worked with several generations of cloned mice.

In 1997 Polly, a sheep created with a combination of both molecular and organismal cloning techniques, was born. Polly was derived from a fetal sheep cell that had been engineered to contain the human gene that makes coagulation factor IX. Factor IX is missing in people with a disease called hemophilia type B. Polly and two other sheep were engineered to produce factor IX in their milk, thus providing people with hemophilia access to a safer and less expensive source of clotting factor than was previously available. Because Polly was made from more easily cultured and, therefore, more easily engineered embryonic cells, it is thought that this type of cloning technology holds the most promise for the future of pharmaceutical production of proteins that cannot be made in bacteria.

In January 2001, the first cloned member of an endangered species was born. This was a gaur, a wild ox native to India and southeast Asia, which the researchers named Noah. The gaur was chosen by Advanced Cell Technology as a candidate for cloning after the company had successfully cloned domestic cattle, which are related to the gaur species.

The embryo from which Noah developed was created from the nuclei of frozen skin cells that had been taken from an adult male gaur that had died eight years earlier. Skin cell nuclei were fused with enucleated domestic cow eggs to produce forty embryos. One of these forty was carried to full term in a surrogate cow mother. Unfortunately, Noah died of an infection two days after his birth (the infection is thought to be unrelated to his origin as a cloned animal). Despite Noah's death, it is likely that cloning will eventually be used to aid the conservation of endangered species. In the future, scientists may attempt to clone a recently extinct species, should intact DNA for an extinct species be obtained.

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