Dennis Cook/AP
Dr. Panayiotis Zavos

Fertility Doctor Claims Success in Cloning Human Embryos

April 24, 2009 06:40 AM
by Rachel Balik
Dr. Panayiotis Zavos says he has made significant progress in his quest to clone a full-term infant from adult skin cells.

Doctor Is Videotaped Making Clone

The filmmaker who videotaped Dr. Panayiotis Zavos apparently cloning human embryos told British newspaper the Independent that Zavos’ work is legit. Zavos claims to have created 14 human embryos cloned from adult skin cells and implanted a total of four women with 11 of the embryos. None of the pregnancies went to term. Zavos says he is determined to pursue his work despite a hostile response from ethicists and scientists, who both condemned his efforts and called upon him to submit his data for peer review. Human cloning is illegal in several countries, including the UK.

According to the New Scientist, Zavos conducted his initial research by fusing human cells with cow eggs. In September 2003, he announced that he had successfully created the first human clone embryo. Other scientists were skeptical and critical of his work; Zavos said that his research was legal and ethical, and that he had no plans to create full-term “monsters” from the human-cow hybrids.

Background: Past Claims of Human Cloning

In March 2009, an Italian doctor announced that he had cloned three human children nine years ago. Dr. Severino Antinori, who is famous for helping post-menopausal women to become pregnant, says the two boys and one girl he created using a clone are healthy and living, the AFP reported. He has no proof of his work, but says he used the cells of infertile fathers to create the embryos.

A French cult called the Raëlians also claimed to have made a clone in December, 2003. But the company responsible for the alleged clone, Clonaid, appeared to be entirely unqualified to conduct the procedure, The New York Times reported. A majority of the people involved with the research were also high-ranking officials in the religious group. An FDA investigation found that work conducted involved not human, but animal cells.

More than 30 years ago, a highly respected medical writer published a book describing his secret work as the project manager for an experiment to create the first human clone. David Rorvik described the project in his book, “In His Image: The Cloning of a Man,” released by a reputable medical publisher. However, he cited the research of a scientist who took him to court, demanding to see evidence. When Rorvik failed to produced the cloned child, his work was pronounced a hoax.

Related Topic: Cloning Animals

Cloning is a highly controversial, extremely complex process with a very high failure rate. Scientists finally managed to successfully clone a mammal in 1997, when Dolly, the first cloned sheep, was born. More recently, a Korean company has begun commercially cloning pets. The first customer got a great deal of media attention when she brought home five puppies cloned from her deceased pit bull.

Reference: Dr. Zavos, the Zavos Organization and Andrology Institute of America

The homepage of the Zavos Organization advertises Dr. Zavos at the top of the page with flashing text as “the man that created the first human cloned embryo.” The site offers PDFs documenting his work in cloning and infertility treatment.

Dr. Zavos is also the founder of the Andrology Institute of America, dedicated to the “proper diagnosis and treatment of male infertility.” The site describes him as one of the leading researchers and innovators in the field, of reproductive medicine, recognized by mainstream media and medical journals alike.

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