I was in high school when Dolly was born. Despite Dolly being a domestic sheep, from TIME to National Geographic, all the magazines had Dolly on its cover. Her birth was a milestone as this feeble lamb was the first mammal ever to be cloned. But then, maybe due to our ignorance or because of other discoveries taking prominence, we rarely heard anything on cloning, except sporadic false claims of human cloning and television debates on the morality of it.
Well, it’s time to get updated. Today’s Needull, an article from The Economist, helps you catch up with the developments in cloning technology post Dolly and reveals why, sooner than we think, a human ‘clone’ won’t be just a subject of clichéd Hollywood movies.
The fuss among scientists was due to the fact that many believed cloning animals was impossible. John Gurdon of Oxford University had cloned frogs by nuclear transfer in 1958—but his creations never developed beyond the tadpole stage. All efforts to do the same in mammals had failed. These failures had led biologists to believe that, although all cells in a body shared the same genetic material, they were not equally capable of the same reproductive feats. “Stem cells”, such as those found in early embryos, could develop into the various sorts of specialist cells found in skin, muscle or nerves. But those “differentiated” cells could not change back into stem cells. Development was a one-way street.