Cloning- ethical? No, says the Catholic Church.
An international group of reproductive experts plans to launch a serious effort to clone humans to provide children to infertile couples, a United States scientist has said.
A viable embryo, probably using stem cells or other cells taken from the man, could be available for implantation in the woman`s uterus within 18 months, said Dr. Panayiotis Zavos of the Andrology Institute of America and the Kentucky Center for Reproductive Medicine and Invitro Fertilization in Lexington, Kentucky.
The scientists plan to use regular cells or undifferentiated stem cells from the husband and insert them into an ovacyte, a woman`s egg stripped of its genetic material. The cell would be stimulated to divide and create an embryo equipped with all the specially created cells that make up a copy of the man, and then implanted in the wife`s uterus. The wives could also be the ones cloned, depending on the couple`s choice.
Ten infertile couples have volunteered to participate, including an American pair who cannot conceive because the man`s testicles were severed in an accident.
Scientists have cloned sheep, beginning with "Dolly" in Scotland in 1997, as well as mice and cows, but any suggestion that human clones are next have been met by outrage within the scientific community and in political and religious circles. Zavos said his group would hold a conference in Rome in March, to which a Cardinal from the Vatican would be invited. The Roman Catholic Church is opposed to human cloning.
To create animal clones, scientists frequently made hundreds of failed attempts to develop viable embryos. Medical ethicists have posted the possibility of cruel failures in human cloning, where genetic abnormalities result in grotesque fetuses unable to survive outside the womb.
The consortium will operate in an unnamed Mediterranean country.