Dolly debts – PPL Therapeutics count the cost

Posted on the 1st December 2003

PPL Therapeutics, the company behind Dolly the Sheep and other cloning techniques, has put itself up for sale. Chief executive Geoff Cook and four other directors have resigned.

The decisions have been made after the company showed interim losses of more than £13.6m. Its problems are the latest in a long line of failures for the European biotech industry.

Since the hype following the cloning of Dolly in 1986, PPL’s standing has declined steadily. The promise that profitable biotechnological techniques will revolutionise commercial breeding of animals for farming and human medicine has proved empty.

Dolly herself was the first ‘successfully’ cloned animal in 227 attempts and, more recently, it has been admitted that ‘the success rate with animal cloning is about one to two per cent in the published results’. In total, it is almost definitely much lower.

Cloned and other animals genetically manipulated by biotechnology suffer a bewildering array of health problems and physical deformities. Many die in the womb or soon after birth.

There is, additionally, a body of scientific opinion which states that Dolly and her ilk are not true clones – i.e. that they are not genetically identical to the ‘donor’ animals.

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