It’s been 20 years since the world was first introduced to Dolly, the Finn Dorset sheep.
It’s been 20 years since the world was first introduced to Dolly, the Finn Dorset sheep who was the first mammal to be successfully cloned using adult animal cells.
Researchers at the Roslin Institute in Scotland kept her existence a secret for seven months until they were ready to publish a paper describing the methods they used to clone her.
The impact of their announcement was immediate and far-reaching, with the institute receiving more than 3,000 phone from all over the world that week.
"We'd underestimated the impact the announcement would make," Alan Colman, one of the researchers involved, told CNN.
"It was something we had prepared for, but we had been totally overwhelmed by the response."
When the researchers introduced Dolly in 1997, most of the headlines centered around the implications of using adult cells in cloning on humans, but according to CNN, the researchers’ main goal was actually to find a more “efficient way” to develop genetically modified livestock.
Despite the success of Dolly -- and later, her four cloned “sisters,” who were conceived from the same cluster of adult mammary gland cells as Dolly -- the scientists involved don’t “see a need to clone humans.”
Instead, they’re hoping to use what they learned from Dolly to advance stem cell therapy in the hopes of being able to better treat disease.
As for Dolly, she was able to live a relatively healthy, happy life and gave birth to six lambs. However, she was euthanized at age 6 after she developed lung cancer and arthritis and is now on display at the National Museum of Scotland (which is kind of cool, but also a little weird?).
Dolly's "sisters" were also recently euthanized after developing osteoarthritis (though they were able to make it to age 10).
A team of researchers at the University of Nottingham now plans to conduct a post-mortem exam on them in order to better gain insight into how exactly the cloned animals aged.