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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 01:51 GMT
Childless couples to get cloned babies

An Italian doctor has announced plans to clone human babies for infertile couples.

Dr Severino Antinori, who runs a fertility clinic in Rome, said the method would only be available to couples who can't have children by any other means - for example, when test tube fertilisation is impossible because the man produces no sperm.

Dr Antinori said he hoped to produce the first cloned human embryo within eighteen months.

The procedure would be the same as that already used for animals.

Cells from the father would be injected into an egg, which would then be implanted into the woman's womb to grow.

The resulting child would have exactly the same physical characteristics as the father. Dr Antinori has caused controversy in the past in his work with childless couples.

Eight years ago, he helped a sixty-three year-old woman to have a baby by implanting a donor's fertilised egg in her uterus, making her the oldest women in the world to give birth.

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