Are cloned babies a thing of the near future?
A maverick fertility doctor claims to have cloned 14 human embryos and implanted them into the wombs of four volunteers.
American doctor Panayiotis Zavos, originally from Cyprus, was filmed carrying out the procedure by an independent documentary maker in a secret laboratory in the Middle East. If the film is authentic, Zavos may have broken the greatest taboo in science.
Cloning human embryos is illegal in Britain and most countries.
Dr Zavos said the women, including at least one from Britain, were genuinely hoping to become pregnant with a cloned child, but the experiment did not work.
However, he says his attempt was the first chapter in a serious attempt to produce a baby cloned from the skin cells of its parent.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph he said: 'I think with better subjects, we will get some to carry a pregnancy. There is absolutely no doubt about it. The cloned child is coming. There is absolutely no way that it will not happen. If we intensify our efforts we can have a cloned baby within a year or two.'
Dr Zavos's claims are sure to cause outrage amongst mainstream fertility experts, particularly as the documentary following his efforts is to be shown on the Discovery Channel.
Dr Zavos says he is hoping to help women overcome their infertility by using a similar technique to the one that was used to clone Dolly the sheep in 1996. But most experts believe it is still too dangerous and ethically dubious to be used as a form of human fertility treatment.
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