It’s possible that there was never a renowned non-human example of early-onset arthritis. It has long been believed that Dolly the sheep, the first animal to be cloned from an adult cell, was born with osteoarthritis. This has been used as proof of the risks associated with cloning. This assertion has been called into doubt after a second look at her skeleton.
One of the most significant scientific events of the 1990s was the cloning of Dolly, which sparked a wide range of philosophical and ethical discussions. However, in 2003, the cheerful images of Dolly having fun in the fields or taking care of her kids were swapped out with gloomy images. Dolly was put to sleep at the young age of 6—a very young age for a sheep—to prevent her from suffering a torturous demise from lung illness.
The news that she had early-onset osteoporosis added fuel to concerns that this was a sign that cloning animals was inherently harmful. One early illness may be unlucky, but two symptoms suggested a caution. Professor Kevin Sinclair of the University of Nottingham in the UK questioned if Dolly truly was so ill given that other cloned sheep, some of whom came from the same cell line as Dolly, had led robust and active lives.
Sinclair and associates describe X-raying Dolly and her daughter Bonnie’s skeletons in Scientific Reports. As a precaution, Sinclair and his co-authors also looked at Megan and Morag, the first two animals to be cloned from differentiated cells as opposed to the undifferentiated mammary cell from which Dolly was created. Although Bonnie and Megan both have osteoarthritis in a number of their joints, this is common in sheep between the ages of 11 and 13, which is when these two reached. In contrast, Dolly had no symptoms of arthritis in the majority of her joints. Three independent veterinary orthopedic specialists determined that the arthritic joints were only mildly to moderately impacted.
His earlier research, which revealed little signs of early onset arthritis in 13 cloned sheep, raised Sinclair’s doubts. In a statement, Sinclair stated that “no official, detailed examination of Dolly’s osteoarthritis was ever conducted.” “Therefore, we believed that it was important to correct the record.”
Dolly’s left hind limb was undoubtedly lame, although this might have been due to a variety of factors, not all of which were hereditary. The idea that she had exceptionally early arthritis seems to have originated from a single remark in the abstract of a conference report, which was uncritically accepted. The National Museum of Scotland still has Dolly’s bones, which is a blessing for Sinclair’s team since none of her original radiography records were saved. And cloning may be safer than we initially anticipated, at least for sheep.