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Italian Doctor Says Three Cloned Babies Born

Reuters, USA
May 5, 2004 • Wednesday May 5, 2004

ROME (BGNES)- Maverick Italian fertility doctor Severino Antinori said on Wednesday at least three babies had been born from cloned embryos in reproduction experiments he had collaborated on.

Antinori, who has made cloning claims in the past, is viewed with scepticism by many scientists and has never produced any evidence for peer review in the area.

In May 2002, Antinori said three women were pregnant with clones, one in her 10th week, one in her seventh and one in her sixth.

In November of the same year, he said a woman pregnant with a cloned embryo was due to give birth in January, but declined to give details about where the birth would take place. He has since refused to talk about it.

When asked on Wednesday about the cloning attempts he was involved in, he said: “At least three went well.

“Three were born from nuclear transfer. Nuclear transfer has worked,” he said, referring to cloning using an egg cell and an adult cell from another human in much the same way Dolly the sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal, was created.

Antinori said he only acted as an “advisor” during the cloning.

“I confirm the facts. I have had information that it happened and I am repeating it,” he told a news conference in Rome to announce a congress on reproductive technologies.

Antinori declined to say whether they were multiple births by the same mother or separate births. He said the topic was “too taboo” to talk about.

The doctor gained notoriety in 1993 when he helped a 62-year-old woman give birth using a donor egg after giving her fertility treatment.

Antinori has also worked with U.S.-based fertility expert Panos Zavos who said in January that he had transferred a cloned human embryo into a woman — news that was greeted with scepticism by the scientific world.

Last year the Raelian movement — a cult that believes life on Earth was engineered by visitors from outer space — said it had produced the world’s first cloned human, without providing any evidence.

Researchers at Advanced Cell Technology of Massachusetts are the only researchers to publicly show that they have cloned a human embryo to the 16-cell stage.

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