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Zavos makes more clone claims

31 August 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 273

Controversial US fertility doctor Panos Zavos has made more unsubstantiated claims of limited success in human cloning experiments. According to a report in the UK's Mail on Sunday, Zavos says he has created embryo clones of an 11 year-old girl and a 33 year-old man, who both died in road accidents. The research, which was reported in a UK Channel 4 News broadcast on Sunday night, has been dismissed by scientists. Leading Australian IVF expert Alan Trounson says Zavos' work should be viewed in the same way as the cloning claims made by the Raelian religious cult, which has also never produced any scientific proof of its experiments.

Earlier this year, Zavos claimed that he had transferred a cloned human embryo into a 35-year old woman, but later said that she did not become pregnant. Clinicians and scientists have described Zavos' claims as publicity stunts, and have condemned Zavos for attempting human cloning when the majority of the scientific community believe the procedure is unsafe. Experiments in animals have shown that procedures used to clone mammals have an extremely low success rate, and carry a high risk of fetal abnormalities.

Zavos now claims that he has taken genetic material from the cells of two deceased people, and has inserted it into cow eggs to create embryo clones. He says that the embryos then grew to the 64 cell stage, but that he would never consider putting the hybrid embryos back into a human womb. However, he claims that using the same technique with human eggs, a true clone of a dead person could be developed. 'If anyone ever accused me of playing God, this is as close as you can get', Zavos said, adding 'I am not God, I play no God, I just do God's work'. He also said that he saw 'no difference' between reproductive and post-mortem cloning.

Zavos' latest claims come as Britain's Royal Society, along with 67 other scientific institutions, are calling on the United Nations to introduce a worldwide ban on human reproductive cloning.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Cloning claim disputed by leading genetic scientist
Australian Broadcasting Company Online |  30 August 2004
Doctor to clone dead girl and man: report
Sydney Morning Herald |  30 August 2004
The 'cloning' of little Cady
The Daily Mail |  29 August 2004
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