TEXT ON SCREEN: February 24, 1997
ARCHIVAL (ABC NEWS, 2-24-97): PETER JENNINGS: The headline on the other major news story today to which we intended to devote some time is very simple: Hello, Dolly.
NARRATION: In February of 1997 a Finn-Dorset sheep named Dolly sent waves of future shock around the world.
ARCHIVAL (CBS NEWS, 2-24-97): DAN RATHER: The first living, breathing clone of an adult mammal.
ARCHIVAL (ABC NEWS, 2-24-97): NED POTTER: Its possible were seeing a scientific explosion comparable to the atom bomb or the moon rocket or DNA itself.
NARRATION: For many, it was a case of science gone too far.
ARCHIVAL (NBC NEWS, 2-24-97): FATHER KEVIN WILDES: Are we acting more like the creator than creatures? Are we trying to play the role of God on this?
NARRATION: Predictions multiplied about just what this breakthrough would bring.
ARCHIVAL (CNN, 2-23-97): JO ANDREWS: Soon it will be possible to give her thousands of absolutely identical sisters.
ARCHIVAL (CBS NEWS, 2-24-97): VICKY MABREY: Animals could be cloned with human diseases and new therapies tested on them
ARCHIVAL (ABC NEWS, 2-24-97): NED POTTER: Endangered species can take heart
ARCHIVAL (NBC NEWS, 2-24-97): JEREMY RIFKIN: This is not an elaborate sophisticated technique. It means that any decent college or graduate school student could potentially clone a human being.
NARRATION: What ever became of Dolly and all that speculation about the brave new world she ushered in?
SEND IN THE CLONES
NARRATION: On July 5, 1996, Scottish scientist Ian Wilmut received the news he had been waiting for: lamb #6LL3 had been born.
IAN WILMUT (RESEARCHER, ROSLIN INSTITUTE (1973-2006)): First of all, I was immensely relieved that she was alive and apparently normal.There was a slight feeling of sort of awe, if you like, at the potential impact.
NARRATION: Wilmut and his team at the Roslin Institute outside of Edinburgh had spent several years trying to do what no one had before to successfully make a clone of an adult mammal. Embryologist Bill Ritchie had lifted a single mammary cell from a 6-year-old ewe and fused it to a second sheeps unfertilized egg, which had been stripped of its DNA.
BILL RITCHIE (EMBRYOLOGIST, ROSLIN INSTITUTE (1989-2007)): Thats the method. The actual nuts and bolts of doing it is a little bit more complicated than that.
NARRATION: In fact, Ritchie had repeated the same, delicate procedure over 400 times, and only one surviving embryo, #6LL3, was carried to term by a surrogate mother.
IAN WILMUT: A lot of the cloned animals previously had died born and then died.
JOHN BRACKEN (ANAESTHETIST AT DOLLYS BIRTH): But this particular lamb got onto its feet very quickly and started bleating and looking to get its first feed of milk from its mother.
NARRATION: After the delivery, it was John Brackens wisecrack that christened little 6LL3 with the name forever etched in the annals of scientific achievement.
JOHN BRACKEN: I just turned to my colleague and said, the lamb is being created from mammary cells. And basically I thought it would be a good idea to call it Dolly after Dolly Parton. I dont think I need to explain any more than that.
NARRATION: The few at Roslin who knew what made her so special were sworn to secrecy.
IAN WILMUT: We knew it was going to be a big story. We were gonna get a lot of media scrutiny and the top journals will not publish papers about things which have already been publicized.
NARRATION: They managed to keep Dolly under wraps from July until February. Then, just days before the news was set to be released
IAN WILMUT: Somewhere or other, there was a leak, and because it was published in a Sunday paper, you know, the thing blew.
ARCHIVAL (ABC NEWS, 2-24-97): PETER JENNINGS: Its a very long time since a science story on Sunday made such waves on Monday.
ARCHIVAL (NBC NEWS, 2-24-97): TOM BROKAW: The news was that scientists in Scotland had successfully cloned a sheep in a laboratory.
ARCHIVAL (CBS NEWS, 2-24-97): DAN RATHER: An exact copy made by a combination of genetics, biology and technology.
BILL RITCHIE: I think you would say all hell had broken loose. It was just bedlam.
ARCHIVAL (CBS NEWS, 2-24-97): VICKY MABREY: A brave new world has arrived with the debut of Dolly, a seven-month-old lamb.
ARCHIVAL (ABC NEWS, 2-24-97): JOHN MCKENZIE: What has caused such a shudder in the worldwide scientific community is that so many scientists doubted it could ever be done.
NARRATION: A frog had been cloned in the 1960s, but mammals were seen as too complex.
GREGORY PENCE (BIOETHICIST, UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA AT BIRMINGHAM): It was a seminal, watershed event; and no one saw it coming. And this is a Rubicon that weve crossed. Do we really know where we are?
ARCHIVAL (ABC NEWS, 2-24-97): PETER JENNINGS: Which brings us to the fundamental question: Should we be applauding a mind-boggling scientific breakthrough, or be nervous about where it might lead us?
ARCHIVAL (ABC NEWS, 2-24-97): NED POTTER: Picture a world where hunger has been wiped out by our ability to clone the best cattle in great number, but where war threatens because some future Hitler decided to make multiple copies of himself.
IAN WILMUT: What sensationalized it was that people began to say, Well, could we do this with humans? And people tended to assume that this would happen.
ARCHIVAL (ABC NEWS, 2-24-97): ROBERT KRULWICH: Cloning a human being is closer than anyone had even imagined. Now it seems that scientists could take a single cell, from a more sophisticated creature, say, like me. Pull out my DNA, stick it in a new cell, plant the cell in a womb, and nine months later, out would come a genetic copy of me, a clone.
NARRATION: The tantalizing prospect of cloning human beings soon overshadowed the true scientific promise of Dolly: the prospect that scientists could one day use cloned cells to develop drugs and other therapies in the hopes of curing deadly diseases.
DAVID SCADDEN (CO-DIRECTOR, HARVARD STEM CELL INSTITUTE): In the scientific world, it was actually more of a next-step accomplishment in some ways. But in the popular press, this meant that if Dolly was possible, maybe you could make an army of whoever your worst enemy is.
ARCHIVAL (CBS NEWS, 2-24-97): ANTHONY MASON: Recent best-seller, The Day after Tomorrow, imagined Hitler recreated from his frozen head.
DAVID SCADDEN: And it really extended to a ghoulish, icky misuse of science domain that people suddenly started thinking about it in almost sci-fi terms about what was now possible.
ARCHIVAL (STAR WARS EPISODE III: REVENGE OF THE SITH MOVIE, 2005): YODA: Begun, the clone war has.
DAVID SCADDEN: And that led to people thinking we really need boundaries, cause Scientists, look what they can do.
ARCHIVAL (NBC NEWS, 2-24-97): PROFESSOR PAUL ROTHSTEIN: Its going to take a shape thats abhorrent to us if we dont get ready for it.
ARCHIVAL (ABC NEWS, 2-24-97): ARTHUR CAPLAN: If we cant ban the production of people just to serve as spare parts for the rest of us, we dont have much hope of doing anything in the world of ethics and law.
NARRATION: President Clinton wasted little time coming out as tough on cloning.
ARCHIVAL (CNN, 6-4-97): PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: Today I am issuing a directive that bans the use of any federal funds for any cloning of human beings.
GREGORY PENCE: It started to become politicized from the very beginning. You had presidential commissions, senators and congressmen, holding forth on science what should be funded and what should be forbidden.
NARRATION: This affected not only cloning, but another recently developed and promising form of medical research using embryonic stem cells the building blocks of the human body. These cells were generally taken from discarded embryos at fertility clinics, which created an immediate controversy.
DAVID SCADDEN: Dolly was very much caught up in the whole debate about embryonic stem cells. And so there was a lot of concern about that was messing around with something very fundamental to life.
ARCHIVAL (CNN, 8-9-01):PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Scientists have already cloned a sheep. Researchers are telling us the next step could be to clone human being to create individual, designer stem cells, essentially to grow another you.
NARRATION: In August of 2001, President George W. Bush restricted federally funded medical research to a limited number of stem cell lines, many of which turned out to be useless to American scientists, who had been among the first to isolate human stem cells.
DAVID SCADDEN: The scientific community felt like this was really the very base of a tremendous revolution in our understanding and treatment of human disease, but we were being constrained, and that really had a very chilling effect on research in the U.S.
GREGORY PENCE: Its kinda like we invented the first printing press, and then we decided, No, were not gonna use it. Its too scary, and the Koreans and Indonesians are saying, Hey, give it to us. We got some books we wanna print.
NARRATION: While the cutting edge of stem cell research took hold overseas, the latest feats of cloning continued to capture the publics imagination.
ARCHIVAL (CBS NEWS, 9-8-04): DAN RATHER: Bring in the clones.
NARRATION: Numerous cloned animals made the news, as did claims of a human clone by the rather unscientifically trained Ralians.
ARCHIVAL (CBS NEWS, 12-27-02): RAL: And inside your finger you have small planets.
NARRATION: Then, in February of 2003
ARCHIVAL (ABC NEWS, 2-14-03): PETER JENNINGS: Dolly the Sheep has died. Scientists at the institute in Scotland where she was born said she was diagnosed with progressive lung disease. She was only six years old, so here is yet another warning about cloning.
NARRATION: Critics long argued Dolly would suffer from premature aging because she was made from the genetic material of a six-year-old ewe, and saw her early death as confirmation of their concerns.
BILL RITCHIE: Dolly died because of the lung disease that she had a disease commonly passed between animals in close contact. It wasnt anything to do with her age.
NARRATION: Although Dolly had developed early arthritis, a post mortem at Roslin concluded her cloning was not the cause of her death. But what happened to Dollys legacy, and all that speculation about a future full of clones?
BLAKE RUSSELL (PRESIDENT, VIAGEN): Dolly was this live animal that we could look at, and touch, and feel, that caused us to imagine that there will be people cloning in their sink, in their backyard. And there just wasnt an understanding of the level of sophistication and complexity around this technology.
NARRATION: Few know those complexities better than Blake Russell, who oversees the Viagen Companys cloning operation on this 300-acre farm in Northern Iowa. Costing upwards of $20,000, their services are used mainly by high-end breeders, to preserve the best traits of elite animals.
BLAKE RUSSELL: The number of cloned animals around North America, for example, would only number today in the small thousands. But, yet, there would be literally millions of descendants of those animals. And those offspring are the ones that are ultimately designed for the production of meat and milk that we see on our table.
NARRATION: It took the creation of nearly 300 living embryos to make Dolly. And 17 years later, the process is only slightly more efficient. The long odds of success have also tempered much of the hope cloning held for medical research: that scientists could create embryonic stem cells to treat diseases. It wasnt until May 2013 that scientists in Oregon finally managed to use the Dolly Method to produce stem cells from a cloned human embryo.
BILL RITCHIE: The whole technique still has this inbuilt inefficiency, and we dont know why.
DAVID SCADDEN: We needed some alternative to the Dolly Approach to creating these cell types. And thats what led eventually to what really is a revolution in science.
NARRATION: Japanese scientists Shinya Yamanaka rocked the scientific community in 2006, when he turned ordinary adult cells into stem cells in mice, and then replicated that success in humans. It was a major scientific breakthrough that earned him the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 2012, and also eliminated the ethical issue that he said motivated him: the controversial use of human embryos.
DAVID SCADDEN: You can accomplish all of the good things without taking on the baggage of the bad. And now you can actually do this in most laboratories around the world.
NARRATION: Stem cell therapy is still at the very early stages of development, and the jury is still out on whether Yamanakas reprogrammed cells, or those cloned in Oregon using the Dolly Method, will prove more effective. Ian Wilmut himself gave up cloning years ago, and is using Yamanakas method in his research on Lou Gehrigs disease.
IAN WILMUT: In the next 100, 150 years, well learn to treat most of the degenerative diseases. Its because of our ability to produce these stem cells and study them, and it will be because of our ability to find cells to put into the patient, and all of that came from cloning.
BILL RITCHIE: It started people thinking Well, if we can take a cell and make it into a whole animal, what else can we do with those cells?
NARRATION: President Obama lifted the ban on stem cell research, but Scadden says its impact on his field still resonates.
DAVID SCADDEN: It is something that is a little disturbing, because it was a way in which science suddenly was fighting against non-scientific principles. That legacy is the one that I think is the most troubling.
NARRATION: Dolly herself is on permanent display at the National Museum of Scotland. She is a favorite among both kids who never knew a time when making a clone was pure science fiction, and adults who remember the stir in the winter of 1997 when Dolly turned that fiction into fact.