"There is no evidence that cloning was a factor." That simple statement from the post-mortem report of Dolly the cloned sheep, released this week, suggests her death has no special relevance either to cloning research or to the cloning debate.

The report confirmed that she had progressive lung disease. Details of histopathology analysis are due in a few weeks, and should offer more conclusive evidence, especially of any signs of premature ageing.

Even if not scientifically significant, however, it is natural to view Dolly's death as a landmark, prompting reflection on how far cloning has come since her birth, and how far it may go. Such reflections were in abundance over the past week.

For the team who created Dolly, Ian Wilmut declared, "The fact that we were able to produce an animal from the cell of another adult had profound effects on biological research and in medicine."...

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