Report Fertility Expert Claims To Have Cloned Humans

04.22.09 | FL News Team

A rogue fertility doctor says he has cloned 14 human embryos and implanted eleven of them into four women's wombs. Britain's "The Independent" reports that none of the embryos cloned by Doctor Panayiotis Zavos made it past the early stages of development. The furthest along got to the 32-cell stage.

His account was allegedly verified by independent documentary maker Peter Williams. The Discovery Channel is slated to air the film tonight in the UK.

Because cloning humans is illegal in many countries, Zavos reportedly worked out of a secret laboratory in an undisclosed Middle East country where the practice is not banned. His patients are three married couples and a single woman and the genetic material was taken from their skin cells.

Zavos told the "Independent" he was not deterred by his failure to impregnate the four women. He added, "We're not really under pressure to deliver a cloned baby to this world. What we are under pressure to do is to deliver a cloned baby that is a healthy one." Zavos also said he has cloned embryos of three dead people by grafting their genes into cow embryos that had their own nuclei removed. This human-animal hybrid was not designed to be implanted but to be studied, Zavos said.

One of the embryos came from a ten-year-old girl named Cady who died in a car crash here in the U.S. Her mother reportedly had said she was willing to have the hybrid embryo implanted if there was any chance of cloning her dead daughter. 

Zavos has been routinely criticized and denounced by mainstream fertility specialists and animal cloning experts. Researchers insist that even after many breakthroughs in animal cloning technology, there are still too many developmental problems and dangers to permit it in humans.