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Prof Panos Zavos
People could already be trying to do this in their garage
 real 28k

Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 17:08 GMT
Cloned human planned 'by 2003'
panos zavos
Professor Panos Zavos: The world must "come to grips with cloning"
By BBC News Online's Alex Kirby

A private consortium of scientists plans to clone a human being within the next two years.

The group says it will use the technique only for helping infertile couples with no other opportunity to become parents.

It is time for us to develop the package in a responsible manner

Prof Panos Zavos
It says the technology will resemble that used to clone animals, and will be made widely available.

One member said the group hoped to produce the world's first baby clone within 12 to 24 months.

It was founded by an Italian physician, Dr Severino Antinori, whose work includes trying to help post-menopausal women to become pregnant.

A spokesman for the group is Panos Zavos, professor of reproductive physiology at the University of Kentucky, US.

No alternative

He said it would "develop guidelines with which the technology cannot be indiscriminately applied for anybody who wants to clone themselves".

As with animal cloning, he said, the technology would involve injecting genetic material from the father into the mother's egg, which would then be implanted in her womb.

Dolly APTN
Many pregnancies failed before Dolly was born
"The effort will be to assist couples that have no other alternatives to reproduce and want to have their own biological child, not somebody else's eggs or sperm", Professor Zavos said.

He said he believed human cloning was achievable. It could at first cost $50,000 or more, but he hoped that could come down to around the cost of in vitro fertilisation, about $10,000 to $20,000.

Professor Zavos said he was well aware of the ethical dimensions of the project.

"The world has to come to grips [with the fact] that the cloning technology is almost here," he said. "The irony about it is that there are so many people that are attempting to do it, and they could be doing it even as we speak in their garages.

"It is time for us to develop the package in a responsible manner, and make the package available to the world. I think I have faith in the world that they will handle it properly."

'Irresponsible' plan

But the plans of Professor Zavos and his colleagues received an unenthusiastic response in the UK.

Dr Harry Griffin is assistant director of the Roslin Institute, Scotland, which successfully cloned Dolly the sheep.

It wouldn't be in the interest of the child to be a copy of its parent

Dr Harry Griffin
He told BBC News Online: "It would be wholly irresponsible to try to clone a human being, given the present state of the technology.

"The success rate with animal cloning is about one to two per cent in the published results, and I think lower than that on average. I don't know anyone working in this area who thinks the rate will easily be improved.

"There are many cases where the cloned animal dies late in pregnancy or soon after birth.

"The chances of success are so low it would be irresponsible to encourage people to think there's a real prospect. The risks are too great for the woman, and of course for the child.

"I remain opposed to the idea of cloning human beings. Even if it were possible and safe - which it's not - it wouldn't be in the interest of the child to be a copy of its parent."

Tom Horwood, of the Catholic Media Office in London, told BBC News Online: "A lot of our objections come down to questions of technique.

'Morally abhorrent'

"But beyond that, cloning human beings is inconsistent with their dignity, and involves seeing them as a means, not an end.

"The scientists involved in the project are planning a conference in Rome to explain their plans.

"I don't think you'll start getting lots of papal pronouncements just because they're meeting in Rome.

"The reaction in the Vatican will be the same as everywhere else - that the project is morally abhorrent and ethically very dubious."

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16 Aug 00 | Sci/Tech
Head-to-head: Human cloning
07 Nov 00 | Sci/Tech
Call for embryo cloning
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