Maverick’s human clone claim scorned by experts

A controversial scientist says he has implanted cloned human embryos into women’s wombs, but his claims have been denounced by fertility experts.

Dr Panayiotis Zavos, a Cypriot fertility doctor who also owns clinics in America, also said he had produced embryos by combining the cells of a ten-year-old girl who died in a car crash with eggs from a cow.

Dr Panayiotis Zavos on human cloning

A trailer for a Discovery Channel documentary on Dr Zavos’s controversial work.

None of his attempts to implant the cloned embryos into women’s wombs have yet led to a successful pregnancy.

However, Dr Zavos has insisted: “There is absolutely no doubt about it, and I may not be the one that does it, but the cloned child is coming. There is absolutely no way that it will not happen.”

Human cloning is illegal in the UK and many other countries, but Dr Zavos is thought to be working in a laboratory somewhere in the Middle East. Footage of his experiments featured in a Discovery Channel documentary this week.

He claims to have used the method by which Dolly the Sheep was cloned some years ago. Scientists say his attempts are irresponsible, warning that most cloning experiments result in abnormal embryos.

However, leading fertility expert Lord Winston said there was no “credible evidence” to back up Dr Zavos’s claims.

“This seems to be another one of his claims to get publicity,” he said.

Dr Alastair Kent of the Genetic Interest Group condemned Dr Zavos for “using the hopes of couples desperate to create or to recreate a child as a springboard for his vaulting ambition”.

And Professor Wolf Reik of the Babraham Institute in Cambridge said there were important ethical issues to consider.

“For example, cloning a child who has died will create a genetically identical person; but it will not be the same child. This is most certainly not a way of bringing people back from the dead,” he said.

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