Cloning plan secures 200 volunteers

The controversial Italian doctor behind the project to produce the world's first human clone says he will be ready 'within weeks' to begin his work and already has 200 couples willing to act as volunteers.

Dr Severino Antinori, who first came to the world's attention in the 1990s when he helped a 62-year-old women to become pregnant, went before an investigative committee of the National Academies of Science (NAS) in Washington yesterday, in an effort to convince it that human cloning is both ethical and practical.

Dr Antinori has insisted that his project could help thousands of infertile couples. However his plans have sparked an intense debate among scientific and religious groups.

Professor Ian Wilmut, who led the group responsible for the cloned sheep, Dolly, said that cloning is 'inefficient in all species' and warned those involved that they could expect 'late abortions, dead children and surviving but abnormal children'.

The NAS committee is gathering information on all aspects of cloning for the American Congress, which is expected to outlaw the practice.

The hearings continue today.


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