Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, the scientist who led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep, has died aged 79.
The University of Edinburgh announced that he had died five years after he revealed he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s – the disease for which Dolly offered hope of a cure.
She was the first mammal ever to be cloned from an adult cell.
When Professor Wilmut introduced the sheep in 1997, it paved the way for potential stem cell treatments to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disease that affects more than 150,000 people in the UK.
Professor Sir Peter Mathieson, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Edinburgh, said: “We are deeply saddened by the news of the death of Professor Sir Ian Wilmut.”
‘A titan of the scientific world’: Professor Sir Ian Wilmut, the scientist who led the team that cloned Dolly the sheep, has died aged 79. He is pictured with Dolly in 1997
“He was a giant of the scientific world and led the Roslin Institute team that cloned Dolly the sheep – the first mammal cloned from an adult cell – which changed scientific thinking at the time.”
“This breakthrough continues to drive many of the advances made today in the field of regenerative medicine.”
“Our thoughts are with Ian’s family at this time.”
How did DOLLY THE SHEEP come about?
Dolly was the only surviving lamb from 277 cloning attempts and was created from a milk cell from a six-year-old Finn Dorset sheep.
It was created in a laboratory in Edinburgh in 1996 using a technique called somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).
The breakthrough technique involved transferring the nucleus of an adult cell into an unfertilized egg whose own nucleus had been removed.
Dolly the sheep made history 20 years ago after being cloned at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh. Pictured is Dolly in 2002
An electric shock was used to stimulate the hybrid cell to divide and create an embryo, which was then implanted into the uterus of a surrogate mother.
Dolly was the first successfully created clone from an adult mammalian cell.
Dolly’s creation showed that genes in the nucleus of a mature cell are still capable of reverting to an embryonic totipotent state – that is, the cell can divide to produce all of an animal’s differential cells.