THE scientist who led the team that cloned Dolly the Sheep and paved the way for potential stem-cell treatments to tackle Parkinson’s disease has been diagnosed with the condition.

Speaking on World Parkinson’s Day, Sir Ian Wilmut, from Edinburgh, revealed that he was “happy to act as a guinea pig and either donate tissue or try new treatments” after doctors detected the disease four months ago.

The 73-year-old told The Times that he will be announced as the patron of a research programme set up to enable trials to be carried out of a new generation of therapies that aim to slow the progression of the disease.

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The professor hit the headlines in 1997 when he and his team at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute unveiled the first ever mammal to be cloned from an adult cell.

He proved that specialised cells could be used to create an exact copy of the animal they came from.

Dolly's birth in 1996 led the way for other scientists to work on a new research initiative into diseases including Parkinson's.

In an interview with The Times, Sir Ian also told how he was struggling to come to terms with the condition.

“I was stuck,” he said. “It was a psychological effect; I certainly wasn’t striding forth.”.

Still active in research, he said a pressing concern was the potential impact of Brexit on collaborative science projects involving expertise from across Europe.

“We desperately need a common understanding of how best to produce, store and differentiate human IPS cells,” he told The Times.

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Asked if he was hopeful of a cure in his lifetime, he said: “You always hope, but not too much.”

“I’d suggest you come back and ask me in six or seven years.”

He told the paper there were moments where he grew so frustrated that he wanted to “kick the furniture” and that he had recently “wobbled” after turning sharply in at the end of an aisle of shelves in a shop.

He said: “I could see if I was stupid enough to do it again in a couple of months’ time I might fall down. You have to learn. I shall probably swear if I do fall down.”

Sir Ian, who is married to Sara and lives in the Scottish Borders, has never backed proposals for assisted suicide.

“My attitude, when I realised what I had got, was that it could have been worse,” he said. “There’s no reason why one should, but if one felt there was a choice between motor neurone disease [MND], multiple sclerosis or Parkinson’s, which would you choose?”