January 4, 2002 1:41 AM   Subscribe

Dolly the Sheep cloned five years ago has arthritis already. Already this year we've had pigs cloned for trasplants. Where is this all going and how ethical is it?
posted by brettski (18 comments total)
That should (of course) be Transplants....
posted by brettski at 1:45 AM on January 4, 2002

I know that this news is worrying but from my experience of sheep farming in Scotland if a sheep survives five and a half years at all it's doing well!
posted by nico at 1:55 AM on January 4, 2002

This page puts the ovine life span at 13 years. But in Scotland, perhaps sheep are leaping off cliffs and jumping down wells before their time.

There's an ex-farmer of Scottish sheep on Metafilter? I wonder who else is out there (besides the pesky infestations of journalists and lawyers and web monkeys) among the 13186 members? How many junk pilots? Atom splitters? Ostrich herders? Heart swappers? Snipers? Prostitutes? Hallmark versifiers? Comedians? If there are any ghosts out there, send us a sign.
posted by pracowity at 3:02 AM on January 4, 2002

Well, seeing as how eating pigs is (generally) considered okay breeding them to allow their hearts to be transplanted into humans who need them can't be that unethical...
posted by mokey at 4:37 AM on January 4, 2002

Please, asks this bifocal-wearing MetaFilterian, no tiny type!
posted by Carol Anne at 6:11 AM on January 4, 2002

Am I right in thinking that the reason arthritis is significant is because it's connected with autoimmune problems? I'm guessing that genetic engineering may make it more difficult for the body to identify it's own genes (ie it's own cells) and so encourage the cloned animal to start attacking itself? Or am I just making this up?
posted by andrew cooke at 6:46 AM on January 4, 2002

> Please, asks this bifocal-wearing MetaFilterian...

Sorry. I didn't want to waste too much space on a silly digression, though of course it's just as silly, or sillier, in small type.
posted by pracowity at 6:54 AM on January 4, 2002

Cloning a pig to transplant its organs is only ethical if you use the rest of it in a BLT.
posted by jpoulos at 7:17 AM on January 4, 2002

if you use the rest of it in a BLT.

I'm comfortable with that, ethically speaking. And gastronomically speaking. But without the presence of decent vine-riped tomatoes, we venture once again into morally-sensitive territory.
posted by UncleFes at 7:51 AM on January 4, 2002

Clones seem like they'd taste funny, like the steak that Jeff Goldblum sent through the teleporter in The Fly.
posted by dong_resin at 7:56 AM on January 4, 2002

Homer: "Mmmm.... clones..."
posted by Fofer at 8:22 AM on January 4, 2002

Maybe funny good!
posted by UncleFes at 8:25 AM on January 4, 2002

all this cloning around and talking of bacon is making me hungry.
posted by johnnyboy at 8:42 AM on January 4, 2002

The small type is where the comedy lives!
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:59 AM on January 4, 2002

Maybe the sheep that they cloned Dolly from had arthritis. I heard reports that the original sheep was known to be a knuckle cracker.
posted by gfrobe at 3:26 PM on January 4, 2002

Didn't the clones in Blade Runner only last four years before they started falling apart? Sounds like fact is surpassing fiction. The glass is half full.
posted by ZachsMind at 4:49 PM on January 4, 2002

IIRC, there were early theories about Dolly aging prematurely because of the shortened telomeres (chromosome "caps") she inherited from the somatic cell from which her genetic material was derived. Telomeres and the enzyme which maintains them, telomerase, are the focus of intense research into human aging as well. If Dolly's telomeres do turn out to be involved in her arthritis, the company to buy shares in is called Geron. (They have some info on telomerase on their site.)
posted by sennoma at 8:34 AM on January 5, 2002

Why clone pigs for transplantable tissue if human clones are available?

Uh oh. That mean ol' slippery slope confronts the animal abusers again...
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:29 PM on January 6, 2002

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