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Friday, 4 January, 2002, 12:50 GMT
Cloned sheep Dolly has arthritis
Dolly the Sheep
Dolly the Sheep is five and a half years old
Dolly the cloned sheep has arthritis according to one of the scientists involved in her creation.

Professor Ian Wilmut, a member of the team at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, said the condition may have arisen because of genetic defects caused by the cloning process.

Professor Wilmut has called for a research programme to establish the impact cloning has on animal health.


Biology is not like Lego, it's not like Meccano

Dan Lyons
CAGE spokesman
But animal welfare groups say the news proves cloning is harmful to animals - and have called on scientists to halt their experiments.

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Mr Wilmut said: "There is no way of knowing if this is down to cloning or whether it is a coincidence.

"We will never know the answer to that question."

Professor Ian Wilmut
Professor Wilmut: Cloning has great potential
He later told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that there needed to be a systematic assessment of the health of cloned animals.

And he accepted that scientists may be too commercially motivated.

But he continued: "This is a very young technique.

"It has great potential. As well as studying the animals that are there already we have to continue with the process to improve and use the technology."

Survival struggle

But Dan Lyons, of the animal protection group CAGE, told the programme that this process could never be perfected.

"Biology is not like Lego, it's not like Meccano, you can't just interfere with one aspect of an animal's system and expect the rest of the system to continue to function perfectly."

The animal welfare group Compassion in World Farming has also called for a halt to cloning.

Its director, Joyce D'Silva, told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I think of the hundreds and hundreds of other cloned lambs who have been born and had malformed hearts, lungs or kidneys.

"They have struggled to survive for a few days and then had their lungs filled with fluid and gasped their way to death or had to be put our of their misery by their creators.

"That is the real story of cloning."

It is unusual but not unknown for a five and a half year old sheep to develop arthritis.

This has raised the question of whether the cloning process led to Dolly's problem and whether cloning always gives rise to unhealthy animals.

Many cloning companies have reported that their animals are healthy.

But there has been no independent assessment of the long term health of cloned animals.

And there is anecdotal evidence of animals being born overweight, malformed and with damaged immune systems.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Sue Nelson
"Other cloned animals have also shown defects"
Arlene Klotzko, expert in Genetics and Cloning
"There are may more questions than answers about animal cloning"
Anne McLaren, Wellcome/CRC Institute
"I think that animal cloning will go ahead"

Talking PointTALKING POINT
Clampdown?
Should scientists stop cloning animals?
See also:

04 Jan 02 | UK
Head-to-head: Cloning
04 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
Animal cloning: What is the future?
02 Jan 02 | Sci/Tech
New pig clones born
06 Jul 01 | Sci/Tech
Warning over dangers of cloning
10 Sep 98 | Sci/Tech
How Dolly became a cash cow
27 May 99 | Sci/Tech
Is Dolly old before her time?
21 Dec 97 | Sci/Tech
First there was Dolly...
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