Dolly the Sheep did not suffer from arthritis and the ill-effects of premature ageing, scientists discover

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Dolly the cloned sheep didn't have arthritis after all
Dolly the Sheep made history in 1996 but led a rather unhappy existence

She was the first cloned mammal in the world but her short life was widely believed to have been marred by poor health.

Now scientists have said that claims the cloning process left Dolly the Sheep with arthritis are untrue.

Dolly was born at the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh in 1996 and made history by being the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.

There have been claims the process led her to age prematurely and left her vulnerable to diseases linked to ageing.

Dolly died on February 14, 2003, aged six.

Dolly the cloned sheep didn't have arthritis after all
Dolly at her home in Roslin, Scotland, on September 3, 1997 (Photo: The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

She was thought to have suffered was early-onset osteoarthritis (OA), resulting in her joints wearing out before their time.

But a new X-ray examination of Dolly’s skeleton found no evidence of abnormal arthritis.

The same was true of the bones of Dolly’s naturally conceived daughter Bonnie, and Megan and Morag, two other sheep clones created from cultured cells.

Professor Sandra Corr, from the University of Glasgow, said: “We found that the prevalence and distribution of radiographic [arthritis] was similar to that observed in naturally conceived sheep and our healthy aged cloned sheep.

“As a result we conclude that the original concerns that cloning had caused early-onset OA in Dolly were unfounded.”

Dolly the cloned sheep didn't have arthritis after all
Dolly was named after the singer Dolly Parton (Picture: PA)

The only formal record of osteoarthritis in Dolly was a brief mention in a conference abstract, said the researchers whose findings are reported in the journal Scientific Reports.

It reported that Dolly had OA of the left knee.

In 2015, Dolly was honoured with a blue plaque put up at her birthplace in Edinburgh University’s Roslin Institute.

Last year, it was revealed that four sheep who were cloned from the same cells as ‘Dolly the sheep’ are still in good shape.

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