Human cloning plans revealed

An Italian professor planning to launch human cloning trials involving British subjects was today shedding further light on his radical proposals.

Eight British women are reported to be among those who have volunteered to be impregnated with cloned embryos in the project, which is led by controversial fertility doctor Professor Severino Antinori.

Prof Antinori will discuss the scientific and medical aspects of human cloning during a panel discussion at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington DC.

The Italian Medical Association has already launched disciplinary action against Prof Antinori for his stated plans, which would also violate European cloning guidelines.

Mario Falconi, the vice president of Rome's medical association, said the professor could be barred from practising in Italy altogether.

Campaigner Professor Jack Scarisbrick, national director of Life, said: "The sooner he (Antinori) is run out of town, the better."

Prof Antinori told an Italian newspaper that 1,300 couples in the US and 200 in Italy are candidates for his research and that he plans to start cloning embryos in November.

Prof Scarisbrick said: "What he is proposing to do is something which is morally quite unacceptable.

"It is manufacturing human beings in a new and exploitative way."

He added: "We are saying human beings should not be manufactured in laboratories.

"He is the unacceptable face of modern medicine. I am delighted the Italians have taken this strong line with him."

Prof Antinori runs a Rome fertility clinic which enabled a 62-year-old woman to have a baby in 1994. Two years he later helped a 59-year-old British unmarried mother to have twins.

The technique is similar to the one used to produce Dolly the sheep and involves injecting cells from the infertile father into an egg, which is then implanted in the mother's uterus.

The resulting child would have the same physical characteristics as his father and infertile parents would not have to rely on sperm donors.

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