The safety of cloning has again been called into question after the creators of Dolly the sheep announced this week that she has developed arthritis at just five years old.
Professor Ian Wilmut, from the Roslin Institute near Edinburgh, reported that Dolly has arthritis in her left hind leg. Although it is not unusual for a sheep to become arthritic, Dolly has done so at an unusually young age. He said that this may be a result of a genetic defect caused by the cloning procedure, although the fact that it may just be an 'unfortunate' natural occurrence cannot be ruled out.
Calling for researchers to share information to see if there is a 'common thread', Professor Wilmut recognised that the news suggests that current cloning techniques are 'inefficient'. He said that to clone humans at this stage would therefore be 'reckless', adding, 'I think there was already plenty of evidence that it would be completely irresponsible to think of producing a person'.
Since the announcement, various groups have called for all cloning procedures on human cells to be stopped. Shares in PPL, which had initially risen sharply after the announcement of cloned piglets, fell by 16 per cent.
Sources and References
Dolly hobbles back into the limelight
Dolly's arthritis raises fears of fast ageing in clones
Don't halt science because a sheep has stiff joints