Scientists to produce the world's first baby clone within 12 to 24 months

A private consortium of scientists plans to clone a human being within the next two years. The group says it will use the technique only for helping infertile couples with no other opportunity to become parents. It says the technology will resemble that used to clone animals, and will be made widely available. One member said the group hoped to produce the world's first baby clone within 12 to 24 months. It was founded by an Italian physician, Dr Severino Antinori, whose work includes trying to help post-menopausal women to become pregnant. Panos Zavos, professor of reproductive physiology at the University of Kentucky, US, said it would "develop guidelines with which the technology cannot be indiscriminately applied for anybody who wants to clone themselves", BBC reports. As with animal cloning, he said, the technology would involve injecting genetic material from the father into the mother's egg, which would then be implanted in her womb. "The effort will be to assist couples that have no other alternatives to reproduce and want to have their own biological child, not somebody else's eggs or sperm", Professor Zavos said. He said he believed human cloning was achievable. It could at first cost $50,000 or more, but he hoped that could come down to around the cost of in vitro fertilisation, about $10,000 to $20,000. Professor Zavos said he was well aware of the ethical dimensions of the project. "The world has to come to grips [with the fact] that the cloning technology is almost here," BBC quotes the professor as saying. "The irony about it is that there are so many people that are attempting to do it, and they could be doing it even as we speak in their garages.” "It is time for us to develop the package in a responsible manner, and make the package available to the world. I think I have faith in the world that they will handle it properly."

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