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April 08, 2002


The Human Clone: What Gives?
Doubt and Shock Greet Cloning Pregnancy Report
Rivals embody opposite sides of cloning debate

The Human Clone: What Gives?
By Kristen Philipkoski

Wired News
2:00 a.m. April 6, 2002 PST
An Italian scientist claims one of his patients is pregnant with a cloned
human fetus -- with emphasis on the word "claims."
The truth regarding what would be a landmark event in the annals of science,
culture and -- for that matter, all of humanity -- remains elusive.
The medical community is alternately outraged, skeptical and enthralled.
And the reporter who broke the story remains mystified.
After making an offhand remark Thursday to a reporter in the Middle East,
Dr. Severino Antinori -- who first announced his intention to clone a human
last year -- has been incommunicado.
Antinori made the claim to reporter Kavitha Daniel of the English-language,
United Arab Emirates-based Gulf News following a talk he gave at a genetic
engineering and cloning conference in Abu Dhabi.
Daniel had asked him about the status of his effort to create a human clone.
He responded that the project was at an advanced stage and one woman was
eight weeks pregnant.
"I really didn't expect that answer," Daniel said in an interview on Friday
morning. "I even wondered if I should tell it. But I thought, what the
hell -- if it was true, then it's amazing, isn't it?"
After discussing with a colleague how to approach the story, Daniel decided
to write it.

He announced the project last year at a National Academy of Sciences
conference in Washington, with Dr. Panos Zavos <> , an
infertility expert in Kentucky.
Since then, both have been ostracized from the mainstream scientific
Zavos was not available for comment.
"Dr. Antinori or his office should be the only source that can confirm or
deny the accuracy of this report," wrote a representative from one of Zavos'
labs <>  in an e-mail.
Daniel, the Gulf News reporter, said that fellow scientists at the Abu Dhabi
conference seemed to question Antinori's credibility.
"He came across as a very mad scientist," she said.
During a question-and-answer period following his talk, Daniel said Antinori
briefly answered questions, then repeatedly returned to discussing his
outrage at President Bush's opposition to cloning.
Even one of the most vocal human reproductive cloning advocates, Randolfe
Wicker of the Reproductive Cloning Network
<> , doubts some of Antinori's comments.
"There are statements in this article that I would seriously question,"
Wicker wrote in an e-mail. "There are not 'thousands of infertile couples'
involved with Antinori and Zavos. They were limiting their undertaking to 10
couples. I know one of those couples."
Members of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity <>
were skeptical, but worried that Antinori's claim could be true.
The process of creating a cloned human embryo would not be a huge technical
challenge. It has been done in mammals many times, with Dolly the sheep
being the most famous example.
In the process, a researcher takes DNA from the nucleus of a living cell and
injects it into a woman's ovum from which the nucleus has been removed. An
electric jolt begins the process of cell division, and then the embryo is
The majority of published research documents that death or mutilation of the
clone are the most common results of mammalian cloning, said John Kilner,
president of the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity.
"To subject human beings to cloning is not taking an unknown risk, it's
knowingly harming people," Kilner said.

Doubt and Shock Greet Cloning Pregnancy Report
Sat Apr 6,11:42 AM ET
By Sinead O'Hanlon
LONDON (Reuters) - Scientists reacted with skepticism and shock on Saturday
to a report that a woman taking part in a controversial human cloning
program for infertile couples was eight weeks pregnant.
Italian fertility specialist Severino Antinori, who last year announced his
intention to create the world's first human clone, has been quoted as saying
one woman in his program was pregnant -- but he has since refused to confirm
or deny this.
"Our project is at a very advanced stage. One woman among the thousands of
infertile couples in the program is eight weeks pregnant," Gulf News, an
English-language newspaper in the United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday
reported Antinori as saying.
It said Antinori, who did not give any further details, had been responding
to a question at a lecture at the Zayed Center for Follow-up and
Coordination, an Abu Dhabi think tank.
It was unclear if Antonori had clearly stated that the woman's pregnancy was
a result of cloning.
Contacted by telephone on Saturday, Antinori told Reuters "I am not talking
to journalists" before hanging up.
There was no information as to where the woman was, or from whom the alleged
fetus was cloned, if it was.
Cloning and fertility experts expressed strong doubts over the report.
Dr. Ehab Kelada, clinical director at the London Fertility Centre, said
Antinori must clarify the report immediately.
"The scientific community will be very alarmed," he said.
"If this report is true, it is shocking. We don't know how safe cloning is
for humans and it is dangerous to embark on this path without proper
regulations or guidelines."
Rudolf Jaenisch, professor of biology and a leading cloning scientist based
at the Whitehead Institute at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (
cs=nw>  - web sites
Massachusetts%20Institute%20of%20Technology&cs=nw> ), said he was extremely
angry at the news but very skeptical.
He said the scientific community would have no way or verifying whether the
baby, if it existed, was a clone or a normal child.
"I do not trust these people to tell us the truth," he said.
"It is totally outrageous and irresponsible to attempt cloning of humans
when we know there is a very high probability of severe abnormalities, even
if the baby survived to birth, which is extremely doubtful. In fact, death
before birth would be the best outcome."
Richard Nicholson, editor of the Bulletin of Medical Ethics in Britain, said
he was skeptical about the report because of the technical difficulties
which had to be overcome.
But he believed it was only a matter of time before a woman was implanted
with a cloned embryo.
The idea of a human clone has met outrage around the world, despite the
promised benefits of some avenues of research.
Antinori's plans have been condemned by the scientists who produced the
world's first successfully cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep -- after a series
of failed attempts.
Harry Griffin, assistant director of Scotland's Roslin Institute, has said
any attempt to clone a child would be wholly irresponsible.
Antinori's move prompted the United Nations ( news
ews?p=%22United%20Nations%22&c=&n=20&yn=c&c=news&cs=nw>  - web sites
United%20Nations&cs=nw> ) to set up a panel last year aimed at drafting an
international treaty to ban the cloning of human beings.
The treaty drafting process is expected to take years, but Antinori's
reported announcement is likely to give more urgency to the debate, which
began in February.
Human reproductive cloning is banned in Britain and some other countries.
But in many states it is unclear how existing laws cover this area of
scientific development.
Antinori has been working with Panos Zavos, a former professor at the
University of Kentucky in the United States, to clone fetuses for infertile
He achieved fame a few years ago by helping a 62-year-old woman become
pregnant with a donated egg.

Rivals embody opposite sides of cloning debate
Professors share ties to JHU, not visions of method's impact

By Tom Pelton
Sun Staff
Originally published April 7, 2002
The Baltimore Sun

One man sees a future in which all embryos are genetically programmed in
laboratories. Parents would select not only the eye color but the
intelligence of their children. Scientists would guide human development
away from cancer, depression and perhaps even violence.

Another man looks over this same vision and recoils from a horrifying
utopia. The skeptic sees an aristocracy of "enhanced humans" rising up to
dominate those who would still conceive babies through sex. The majority
might try to purge unpopular traits such as homosexuality from the gene

A vote is expected in the U.S. Senate this spring on a proposed ban on human
cloning. Scientists and religious groups have launched lobbying campaigns,
including television and radio ads, to argue for or against alternative
methods of human reproduction.

The extreme poles of this argument are embodied in two men, Gregory Stock
and Francis Fukuyama, who have contrasting experiences and have been waging
a debate in books, over the Internet and before audiences.

Stock, 52, is a California medical school professor - a libertarian and
technology lover with no children - who has been trying in vitro
fertilization to conceive a baby with his 42-year-old wife.

Stock is outraged that conservative, "tyrannical" politicians, many of whom
he says lack even rudimentary scientific education, are trying to inject
themselves into what he believes should be personal reproductive and medical

"What kind of a country do we live in when we are talking about banning
research that could cure diseases and allow infertile couples to have
children?" asks Stock, director of the Program on Medicine, Technology and
Society at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine.
"Science should not be micromanaged by politicians."

Fukuyama, a 49-year-old father of three who lives in the Washington suburbs,
gazes into his children's eyes and is repulsed by the thought that parents
might clone or genetically engineer their children.

His voice is heard by the president. A Harvard-trained political scientist
and author of the best-selling book The End of History and the Last Man,
Fukuyama was asked to serve as one of the 18 members of the President's
Council on Bioethics, an advisory panel preparing a report for President
Bush to help him decide whether to sign or veto a ban on cloning. Bush has
said he favors a ban on reproductive cloning.

"When I think about the idea of actually trying to design your own children,
and all of the risks that would entail, I couldn't conceivably be willing to
do that," says Fukuyama, since July a professor at the Johns Hopkins School
for Advanced International Studies in Washington. "I can see that each child
is unique and has his or her own individual purpose in life. I think it
would be repulsive if I had a hand in manipulating that uniqueness."

Legislation to ban all cloning has been proposed by Kansas Republican Sen.
Sam Brownback. The bill echoes legislation passed by the House last year and
prohibitions adopted by Germany, Japan and 22 other nations.

A less strict bill is being proposed by Democratic Sens. Edward M. Kennedy
of Massachusetts and Diane Feinstein of California. They want to ban cloning
for the creation of babies but would permit so-called "therapeutic cloning,"
which would allow scientists to clone and then destroy embryos during the
process of harvesting their stem cells. These cells are the basic building
blocks of life researchers are trying to grow into regenerative tissue that
could repair injuries and cure disease.

Other scientists in middle

Stock wants to allow therapeutic cloning, but Fukuyama is against it. Many
scientists are put off by the extremity of both positions because they favor
an expansion of stem cell research but believe that it would be
irresponsible to try cloning people.

Last week's unconfirmed reports that an Italian fertility doctor might have
implanted a cloned embryo in a woman's womb lends more urgency to the
question of whether governments should intervene. Experts warn that the
successes in cloning sheep, cats and other animals do not prove that cloning
a healthy human child would work. Many animals born through cloning have
unpredictable genetic defects, scientists say.

Although the rhetoric of the cloning debate is often intense, Stock and
Fukuyama say they respect each other and have a few things in common. They
both have ties to Johns Hopkins - Fukuyama is a professor at the university,
and Stock earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees there during the

Both recently began national publicity tours to promote books just published
on the biotechnology revolution, Stock's Redesigning Humans and Fukuyama's
Our Posthuman Future.

The antagonists faced off during a debate at the Cato Institute in
Washington last month. They conducted an Internet exchange on the Reason
Online Web site a few weeks ago, expect to appear on the Charlie Rose
television program next month and will debate in London later this spring.

In his book, Stock acknowledges that technical hurdles to human cloning
remain. But he predicts that researchers will vault these obstacles in two
or three decades. When the science is ready, Stock says, cloning will be
nothing to worry about.

Stock believes that cloning is no more disturbing than creating an identical
twin who happens to be a generation younger than his or her sibling.

More exciting to Stock is that cloning will open the door for the next stage
in human reproduction: using genetic testing to screen embryos for desirable
traits and eliminate genetic diseases, such as muscular dystrophy, cystic
fibrosis, Huntington's disease and some forms of cancer.

He envisions a day in which all parents will freeze their eggs and sperm in
banks when they are young, then thaw them to create dozens of fertilized
embryos when they want to produce a child.

Parents would choose the embryo with the highest potential IQ and most
desirable characteristics. Then they would cut and paste genes from other
embryos - perhaps even buying "off-the-shelf gene modules" from
biotechnology companies - to create a child tailored to reflect the parent's
values. Because some studies have suggested that people's tendencies to be
depressed or obese or live short lives might have genetic causes, Stock
speculates that parents could design children to be optimistic and
attractive and live until an advanced age. These characteristics would be
passed to future generations, forever affecting the family's "germ line," or
genetic contents of the descendents' eggs and sperm. "The next frontier is
not outer space but ourselves," Stock writes. "Exploring human biology and
facing the truths we uncover in the process will be the most gripping
adventure in our history, and it has already begun."

Fate of the soul

Fukuyama's book Our Posthuman Future is less optimistic. The author worries
about the health of the human soul in the face of biological improvements.

He writes that cloning is a "highly unnatural" form of reproduction that
would "establish equally unnatural relationships between parents and

Fukuyama also warns about the unintended consequences of fiddling with the
human genetic code. The gene responsible for the high prevalence of
sickle-cell anemia in Africans, for example, also provides resistance to
malaria. Eliminating the gene could lead to countless more deaths from the
second disease.

Changing a gene to eliminate depression could inadvertently botch the
artistic impulse, he writes. Mistakes would linger like faddish tattoos
passed from one generation to the next.

The worst effect of genetic enhancement, Fukuyama predicts, will be
political upheaval. Only the rich will be able to afford to engineer their
children into superior beings, destroying the notion of fundamental equality
that is the basis of democracy.

"The posthuman world could be one that is far more hierarchical and
competitive than the one that currently exists, and full of social
conflict," Fukuyama writes. "It could be one in which any notion of 'shared
humanity' is lost."

Daily Star
April 6, 2002 SECTION: NEWS; Pg. 24 LENGTH: 92 words
BODY: FAT people are being thrown a genetic lifeline after scientists
predicted they could manipulate a gene that would make dieting unnecessary.
The boffins claim weight is controlled by a lipostat that keeps weight at a
constant level leading people who have dieted to put fat back on. But they
now claim that they can make the lipostat think thinner and reduce the
body's target weight. Professor John Speakman from Aberdeen University's
Rowett Research Institute will give a lecture at the Royal Museum on the
subject next Tuesday.


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