In the UK, biologist Ian Wilmut, the world’s leading expert in cloning living cells, died at the age of 79. His most famous achievement was Dolly the sheep, the first animal raised from a single cell. His scientific work laid the foundation for large-scale research in the field of stem cells and an entire branch of biotechnology known as regenerative medicine.
Wilmut was born in 1944 in Scotland to a family of doctors. Since the 1960s, he has been involved in embryology and reproduction. Since the early 1990s, he has led a group of scientists at the Roslin Institute at the University of Edinburgh.
In 1996, scientists managed to clone a sheep from one cell, which they named Dolly. The artificially created embryo developed into an adult animal. Dolly lived for six years, gave birth to six healthy lambs, and was euthanized after being diagnosed with joint disease and a viral lung infection. In 2007, several more sheep were cloned from the same biomaterials as Dolly to participate in research.
Ian Wilmut was categorically against the use of cloning technologies on people. But he believed that such research could and should help grow new tissues and organs that would be used in transplants for people with chronic diseases and in the treatment of genetic disorders.
Now the results of Wilmut’s research in the field of stem cells are used both in further scientific developments and in practical medicine – for example, in new technologies for treating cancer.