Thursday 25 January 2018

The Premature Death of Dolly the Sheep

Was it due to cloning or infection?

Dolly (July 5, 1996 - February 14, 2003) 
[Credit: Wikimedia Commons]

Cloning Dolly
A clone has the same DNA sequence as its parent and so they are genetically identical.  Dolly was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.  This was a major scientific achievement then as it proved that the DNA from adult cells can be used to create an entire organism.  Before Dolly, several clones were produced in the lab from the DNA of embryos (frogs, mice, and cows).  

The Mechanics
Cloning from an adult cell is much more difficult than from an embryonic cell. Dolly was born after 277 attempts by scientists from the Roslin Institute in Scotland.

[Credit: ResearchGate]

1. An udder cell was acquired from a six-year-old Finn Dorset white sheep. 

2. The udder cell was 'reprogramed' to keep them alive but stop them from growing – it was achieved by altering the growth medium (the ‘soup’ in which the cells were kept alive). 

3. The cell was injected into an unfertilised egg cell which had its nucleus removed, and then fused by using electrical pulses.  [The unfertilised egg cell came from a Scottish Blackface ewe.]

4. To ensure the resulting cell develop into an embryo, they cultured it for 6 or 7 days to see if it divided and developed normally, before implanting it into a surrogate mother, another Scottish Blackface ewe.

5. From 277 cell fusions, 29 early embryos developed and were implanted into 13 surrogate mothers. Only one pregnancy went to full term, and the 6.6 kg Finn Dorset lamb 6LLS (alias Dolly) was born after 148 days.

What happened to Dolly?
Dolly lived a pampered existence at the Roslin Institute. She mated and produced normal offspring the normal way, showing that such cloned animals can reproduce. She was euthanised on 14 February 2003, aged 6½ years old.  Sheep can live to an age of 11 or 12, but Dolly suffered from arthritis in a hind leg joint and from sheep pulmonary adenomatosis, a virus-induced lung tumour that is common among sheep which are raised indoors.

The DNA in the nucleus is wrapped up into chromosomes, which shorten each time the cell replicates. This meant that Dolly’s chromosomes were a little shorter than those of other sheep her age and her early aging may reflect that she was raised from the nucleus of a 6-year old sheep. Dolly was also not entirely identical to her genetic mother because the mitochondria, the power plants of the cell that are kept outside the nucleus, were inherited from Dolly’s egg donor mother.

Shared by Azni Zainal Abidin
Guest Blogger

Wednesday 10 January 2018

Creating Wonders In Iraq 2017

On last December 2017, PETRONAS Carigali Iraq once again invited Petrosains to conduct series of Creative Science & Maths Program in Iraq. It was from 1st to 14th of December that the team of four, led by Head of School Program (Primary School), Nimi Soraya Hilmee and accompanied by Asma Hani Ahmad Shukri, Nadia Faizureen Amiril, and Muhammad Haniff M Zahari went there to execute the invitations with the locals.


Upon arrival at Basra International airport, the first thing we think of was dryness. The desert is not as beautiful as dessert – nope, not sweet at all. The harsh environment of the desert itself and the aftermath of war makes the country looks like the communities there live in a very hard time.

We were informed that it would be winter season throughout the time we reached. It was cold enough when we first arrived – the temperature ranging 20 ⁰C to 16 ⁰C for the first two days – and it gets lower to our last days there – reaching 4 ⁰C, thus allowing us to talk with ‘smokes’ coming out of our mouth of which we Malaysian would say, ‘Cakap berasap habak kat hang’ (technically, its actual water vapors and not smokes tho).

The coldness itself is something to mind of, but when the wind blows at your face straight on is something else. It gets colder – all of us were shivering! Imagine our colleagues from PETRONAS Carigali Iraq themselves working in such environment on daily basis. Salute to our comrade there!


The main mode of land transport to move from one place to another is via armored vehicle. Security is the top priority. We were even escorted by the man in arms and guarded with them. We would never know what might happen, so in order to make sure we are safe there we need to wear bulletproof vest especially when moving around. Even the transportation from the Garraf Base Camp (GBC) to Garraf Vocational Training Centre (GVTC) – the hall were only 500m from the front door requires all to wear a bulletproof vest.

The base camp itself is a home. Their tagline; ‘Home, away from home’ about GBC – It totally is. Equipped with a place to eat, rest, and gym allows us to have a proper daily life even with such security. The food prepared was AWESOME! Every meal time there will be preparing two sets of the meal – the main cuisine, which mainly are Malaysian foods and Iraqi foods, serves us bread and salads. They never forget home, so Kicap Kipas Udang (soy sauce), Kimball Chilli and Tomato sauce are on all tables. Well, not just that. For locals, they also prepared some olive oils, salt, and pepper as additional flavors.

The nights in GBC is different from in Malaysia. The sky was clear at night; no clouds, which allow us to look up in the sky and play some game of astronomy. Trying to find some constellations while walking around the camp was something to do at night after a heavy meal and before a good night rest. Some would also go to the gym to workout, or even go to the multipurpose hall to play badminton and ping pong as a healthy way of living in GBC.


Activity with the locals is something that we look forward to this educational trip. On the 3rd day, we had our first session with the teachers in the morning while the session with the students was in the evening. We were assisted by one of the local PETRONAS staff – Yas Khudair Hussein – as the translator for our workshops and activities throughout the program. The activities were conducted in GVTC, as it provides sufficient facilities the sessions.

The activities done with locals inspired them; we had to share the secret recipe and luckily, the items are easy to find in Iraq. We never fail to share with them the science and math concepts behind each activity and they said they never expect that science and maths activities are so much fun compared to the approach they had in classrooms.

Some of the local teachers shared with us on their educational atmosphere, and thanked PETRONAS and all of us on how fortunate they are to come and join the sessions and learned something new from us.


On 11th December 2017, the program was officially launched by Mr. Sohaime Abdullah – CEO of PETRONAS Garraf and Managing Director of JAPEX, Dr. Ryuhei Murayama. The launching was also attended by local Manager of Education officers (Rifai and Sukkar Education offices). Total of 24 VIPs and 31 students came to witness the science show by Petrosains.

As a token of gratitude, the local educational offices provide tokens of appreciation to both PETRONAS and Petrosains. In addition to that, our team leader – Nimi– was being interviewed by the local television channel. We can now proudly say that both PETRONAS and Petrosains are now being known by the local Iraqi that we’re doing good corporate social investment with the locals.


Overall saying, the program was a job well done the previous years. Less hassle, problem free throughout program execution. On behalf of the team, I would say that we implement the PETRONAS Cultural Beliefs; as Results Matter because as a team, we stretch our limit upon delivering the workshop even with the language barrier. We also Shared Success with PETRONAS Iraq team (click here for more) upon reaching out to the locals up to the extent of which we managed to be interviewed by local’s television channel.

We could proudly say that they – the Iraqis – looking forward to such program again next year (2018) from PETRONAS to Petrosains. Thank you PETRONAS for giving us the opportunity to work side by side in corporate social investment. See you in 2018!

Shared by Hanif
Guest Blogger