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Dolly the sheep

Facts for Prelims (FFP)


Source: IE

Context: Ian Wilmut, the British embryologist renowned for leading the team that created Dolly the Sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal from an adult cell, has passed away recently.


About Dolly:

  • Dolly the Sheep, born in 1996, marked a significant scientific breakthrough in the 20th century. Wilmut, along with his team, accomplished the unprecedented feat of making an adult cell behave like a cell from a newly fertilized embryo, resulting in the creation of an animal genetically identical to the donor.
  • They achieved this by taking a cell from the mammary gland of a deceased adult sheep, stimulating it with electricity and chemicals to transform its DNA into an embryo, and then implanting it into an empty sheep’s egg, which was later placed into a surrogate sheep.
  • Dolly’s birth raised ethical debates about cloning research, and it prompted then-U.S. President Bill Clinton to announce a ban on human cloning experiments about a year later.
  • Dolly’s life was tragically short-lived, as she developed an incurable lung tumour and was euthanized by scientists about six years after her birth.


Following the success of the Dolly experiment, Wilmut shifted his focus to using cloning technology to create stem cells for potential use in regenerative medicine. His research played a crucial role in advancing treatments for genetic and degenerative diseases by aiding in tissue repair within the human body.