It has been ten years since dolly's birth and scientist are still doing exhaustive research in the field of stem cells.
Dolly offered hope to millions of sick and disabled people that their disease can be cured. Dolly the Sheep is the world's first clone of an adult mammal. From then on many animals have been cloned and scientific knowledge has advanced and the cloning technique has been refined. Cloning is a process by which an embryonic stem cell branched out, or differentiated, into a specialist cell in the body.
The nucleus from the cell of an adult sheep had been placed into an empty egg which is devoid of its genetic material which later developed into a new living being. This cell created everything inside a new animal: brain, heart, lungs, bones, skin and blood. Scientists working in the field were inspired by the thought that stem cells could be used to repair organs damaged by injuries or disease especially the degenerative brain conditions like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's, heart disease, diabetes and spinal cord injuries.
Professor Ian Wilmut, is the man who led the team responsible for the research, to international fame. After dolly was born the theme became one of the hottest new areas of science and increasing numbers of laboratories began carrying out research in the hope of finding a way to harness the seemingly endless potential of stem cells. Wilmut believes there has been reasonably good progress made in some areas, while others have been disappointing. After the death of Dolly a number of other species have been cloned like cattle, pigs, goats sheep, rabbits, rats, mice, cats, dogs and horses.
But attempts to clone primates especially with rhesus monkeys have not been successful. He said that there is something different with the embryos of primates and it will need something new to make it work. Dolly was the one successful clone out of 270 embryos that were created by transferring a nucleus into an egg. But now with the latest technique it has improved by 2 to 5 %. Wilmut hopes to see a new break through in the new form of medicine based on stem-cell therapy.
Wilmut said that some researchers were trying to find a direct way of turning an adult cell into a stem cell without the need for cloning. Professor Shinya Yamanaka, of Kyoto University in Japan, managed to use a virus to give mouse skin cells some stem-cell-like properties which turned them to muscle, nerve, cartilage and fat cells. Yamanaka says that though the cells resemble embryonic stem cells their ability to differentiate is not sufficient. In Norway, Professor Philippe Collas, a molecular biochemist at Oslo University in Norway, also managed to give some stem-cell-like properties to an adult cell, by punching holes in the cell wall and then soaking this in a soup of undifferentiated cells. The consequence of Dolly's birth is the explosion of nuclear transfer in so many labs.