Science  21 Feb 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5610, pp. 1163

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  1. Dolly Goes to Greener Pastures

    Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, died last week. Her caretakers at the Roslin Institute in Scotland euthanized the 6-year-old sheep on 14 February after diagnosing an incurable lung disease, pulmonary adenomatosis or Jaagsiekte. Her death seems unconnected to her unconventional origin, as the virus that causes the disease has infected both cloned and normal sheep at the institute.


    Ian Wilmut, who with Keith Campbell led the team that created Dolly, says that a preliminary postmortem investigation turned up only two abnormalities: lung tumors characteristic of the disease and signs of the arthritis she had developed several years ago. Although a detailed evaluation of all her tissues is under way, Wilmut says scientists may never know whether the arthritis was affected by her being a clone.

    Dolly, who is survived by six healthy offspring fertilized the conventional way, will be stuffed and displayed at a science museum in Edinburgh. Wilmut and his colleagues, meanwhile, are continuing to push the frontiers of nuclear transfer: They are applying for one of the first licenses in Britain to begin nuclear transfer experiments with human cells. The institute has also suspended its livestock cloning program and is concentrating on understanding the process in smaller animals such as mice

  2. States Question Smallpox Plan, But CDC Forges Ahead

    Some state epidemiologists are urging the U.S. government to temporarily halt its smallpox vaccination program so that researchers can evaluate adverse effects. But officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) don't see any reason to pause.

    The debate flared last week at a Washington, D.C., meeting of an Institute of Medicine panel that is reviewing a plan to vaccinate 450,000 health and safety workers, with up to 10 million more to follow (Science, 24 January, p. 486). Few problems have been reported in the initial batch of 1000 people, a number expected to grow dramatically later this month.

    New Jersey and Georgia state epidemiologists say they don't have enough information, however, to take that step. But Joe Henderson, CDC's associate director of terrorism preparedness, says public health experts know enough to move ahead. The military has vaccinated more than 100,000 soldiers, with only three suffering serious side effects. Another 3% lost at least 1 day of work due to fever or milder symptoms.

  3. Researchers Want Fishing Curbs to Protect Turtles

    More than 400 marine scientists want the United Nations (U.N.) to arrange a moratorium on fishing techniques accused of driving the Pacific leatherback turtle to near-extinction. A petition unveiled at last week's American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS, publisher of Science) annual meeting in Denver, Colorado, calls on the U.N. to work with its members to impose a temporary Pacific Ocean ban on gillnets and longlines bearing thousands of hooks. Researchers say the two techniques have helped shrink leatherback breeding stocks by 95% since 1980.

    Surveys suggest that there are only 5000 nesting female leatherbacks left in the Pacific. “There are just too many hooks adrift to give the leatherback a fighting chance,” says Todd Steiner of the nonprofit Turtle Island Restoration Network, noting that longliners set up to 2 billion hooks per year.

    The researchers point to U.N. efforts to achieve a global ban on high-seas drift netting in the 1990s as evidence of the organization's clout. A response to the petition could come as early as next week, when delegates to the U.N.'s fisheries body meet in Rome, Italy.

  4. Congress Clamps Down on Pentagon Computer Research

    Congress has placed strict limits on a controversial Pentagon research project to develop database-combing software that could help spot terrorists. Last week's 2003 budget bill (see p. 1160) blocks the Pentagon from continuing its Total Information Awareness project until it files a detailed report with Congress. It's also barred from fielding the tool to investigate U.S. citizens.

    A bipartisan group of congressional critics has argued that the project, sponsored by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), could infringe on privacy and civil liberties. Adding to concerns was DARPA's choice to lead the project: retired Admiral John Poindexter, who was convicted of lying to Congress during the Reagan Administration.

    Poindexter's conviction was later reversed, but he couldn't convince Congress to trust DARPA. Under language championed by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Charles Grassley (R-IA), the agency has 90 days to deliver a report on the project's goals, price tag, and legal ramifications. Congress, says Grassley, “won't sit on its hands as [this program] moves forward.”