27 May 1999
Cloned animals may age prematurely

THE future of modern cattle management, cloned animals, could face one fundamental drawback – premature ageing.

Dolly the sheep and two other cloned sheep have fractionally shorter “telomeres”, according to a report in the magazine Nature.

Telomeres are pieces of DNA that “cap” the end of chromosomes and are thought to play an important part of cells ageing process.

Scientists at PPL Therapeutics at Roslin in Scotland – which pioneered Dolly are not yet clear on the impact of shortened telomeres on an animals later life.

They are speculating on the possibility that sequential cloning could lead to progressive shortening of the telomeres.

If that is so, it could have an detrimental impact on the reproduction of cows which are prolific milk producers.

  • The Times 27/05/02/99 page 9
  • Financial Times 27/05/99 page 15