Dolly the sheep cloner backs Parkinson’s research after diagnosis


A SCIENTIST who led the team that created Dolly the sheep has backed research to tackle Parkinson’s disease, after being diagnosed with the condition.

Ian Wilmut announced his diagnosis on World Parkinson’s Day ahead of the launch of a major research programme.

Experts at the universities of Edinburgh and Dundee are to join forces to enable trial therapies which aim to slow down the progression of Parkinson’s disease. The Dundee-Edinburgh Parkinson’s Research Initiative plans to investigate the causes and translate scientific discoveries into new therapies.

Wilmut, who retired from the University of Edinburgh in 2012, said: “Initiatives of this kind are very effective not only because they bring more people together, but because they will include people with different experience and expertise.

“It was from such a rich seedbed that Dolly developed and we can hope for similar benefits in this project.”

The ultimate goal, scientists say, is to find new approaches to predict and prevent the progressive condition caused by damage to specific cells in the brain. hey also hope to facilitate clinical testing of therapies aimed at slowing or reversing disease progression.

The condition affects movement and is often associated with involuntary shaking.

Therapies exist to reduce symptoms and help prolong quality of life, but there are currently no treatments to slow or halt the progression of the disease.

Scottish patients wanting to take part in clinical trials of treatments that could delay disease progression now need to travel to centres in England or Wales, or even abroad.

Dolly the sheep was created at The Roslin Institute in 1996 by a multidisciplinary research team led by Wilmut.

She was the first clone of an animal from an adult cell and her birth turned scientific thinking on its head.

The pioneering breakthrough paved the way for methods of using adult cells to produce “induced pluripotent” stem cells, or iPSCs.

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