Wikimedia Commons / Toni Barros

20 years ago today Dolly the sheep, the first animal to be cloned from an adult of the same species, was born at the Roslin Institute in Scotland. Her birth set off every cloning cliche in the book, from warnings of cloning for spare parts, for clone armies, cloning dead children, cloning dead pets. There were also promises of medical breakthroughs.

On the anniversary of Dolly, Sharon Begley of STAT News asks, “where is my clone?”, and perhaps more significantly, “where are the medical breakthroughs?”

Begley writes: “They were premised on what’s called therapeutic cloning, to distinguish it from reproductive cloning. The idea is to take a cell from a patient, put its DNA into an ovum whose own DNA was removed, and get the ovum to begin dividing and multiplying in a lab dish, eventually producing specialized cells like neurons and pancreatic beta cells. Those cells could be used for basic research, such as to follow how a disease like ALS develops at the cellular level, or for therapy.”

I recommend checking out the full article – it’s a great reminder of how far we came on the shoulders of a sheep, but also a sober reality check about the dangers of over hype. Enjoy!

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