Possible cloned humans?

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by YoungWriter, Nov 29, 2002.

  1. YoungWriter Audiophile Registered Senior Member


    ROME, Italy -- Experts have greeted with scepticism the claims by an Italian doctor that a woman was 33 weeks' pregnant with a cloned baby boy.

    Dr Severino Antinori has claimed without proof in the past that several women are carrying cloned babies -- for example in March, 2001 saying he would produce a human clone in 18 months. There has been no evidence yet this has happened.

    The doctor who clones Dolly the sheep, Professor Ian Wilmut of the Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, Scotland, said people should be "extremely sceptical" of Antinori's claims.

    Wilmut said Antinori had said he had cloned large number of pigs and even primates, but no one had seen them and no scientific paper had been published.

    Michael Le Page, biomedical news editor of New Scientist magazine, told CNN it was very difficult to know what to believe when Antinori had become known for making bold comments.

    "If anyone has cloned a human baby I would be surprised if they would make an immediate announcement," he said.

    Le Page said cloning was illegal in some countries, like the UK, so if a cloned baby was announced and a year later was found to be retarded in some way the doctors involved would look "a bit silly."

    Dr Sandy Thomas, director of Britain's Nuffield Council on Bioethics which examines ethical issues arising from developments in medicine, told CNN: "In the absence of any evidence it's impossible to judge whether it is going to happen or not."

    But Dr Thomas if a child was to be born she said she had a number of concerns. First, if it were born in a country where there was no regulation its would show the need for regulation in that country.

    "Second, our experts tell us we don't know enough about cloning to apply the technique to humans. It goes against normal development and there are likely to be a high rate of deformities."

    John Kilner, president of the U.S. think tank the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, said: "While there are well-founded reasons to be sceptical of Dr. Antinori's claim that a woman is due to give birth to a clone soon, he reminds us that there are those who would continue this dangerous, unethical quest.

    "Such experiments subject human beings produced through cloning to a high risk of death and deformity. The best way to ensure that cloning is not pursued is to pass a comprehensive ban on human cloning.

    "The United States should do this as soon as possible and continue to press the case for a comprehensive ban treaty in the United Nations.

    "Regardless of the health and well-being of the clone upon birth, all nations should affirm the child's human rights. The risk of doing nothing is unacceptable."

    Antinori told a news conference in Rome on Tuesday that a woman was 33 weeks' -- more than eight months' -- pregnant with a cloned baby boy and that the child was developing in an "absolutely healthy" way.

    In April, Antinori claimed that he knew of three pregnancies -- then in the ninth, seventh and sixth weeks of development -- involving cloned babies. He said on Tuesday that the oldest of these was about to be born.

    However, according to his statement in April, the longest pregnancy would have passed nine months in mid-November. Antinori would not explain the discrepancy on Tuesday.

    He also refused to specify if he had any role in the alleged clonings. He did say that he would not be involved in the delivery of the baby, but that he had given a "cultural and scientific contribution" to a consortium of scientists involved in the pregnancies. He refused to identify the scientists. Other groups are claiming to be working on cloning a human.

    Antinori refused to identify the woman who was to give birth in January or give her nationality. When asked where she was going to give birth he said only "countries where this is permitted." Cloning has been declared illegal in many countries.

    Antinori, who runs a private fertility clinic in Rome, gained attention in the 1990s when he used donor eggs and hormones to help post-menopausal women to have children.

    Experts have repeatedly dismissed Antiniori's claims and say they doubt that he is capable of achieving a cloned pregnancy.

    Now assuming that this is true and possible, what is your opinion from a scientific point of view?

    I would've posted this in a more specific science forum, but I wasn't sure where to put it.
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  3. goofy headed punk Registered Senior Member

    From a scientific standpoint I find it extremely unlikely that Dr Antinori has suceeded in causing a clone pregnacy. However if he has that would be really cool. Also, perhaps a more appropriate forum would be Biology & Genetics.
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