Movie directors love a clone, as armies of human clones have marched their way through several sci-fi films. Hundreds of animals have also been cloned which makes many people wonder if we are next?
Why Clone a Human?
The desire to clone comes for many angles. Some would be an alternative to child bearing for those individuals that would like to have kids but for whatever reason, cannot. Some see it (wrongly) that it could replace a deceased child or loved one. Then there are people who wish to have clones of themselves “just in-case” they have an accident, organ failure, or other such medical emergency. They believe they would be able to harvest ‘spare parts’ from their clones.
Is Human Cloning Possible?
Well, let’s get right to it. The short answer is yes - conceptually, there is nothing inherently problematic with producing human clones. Technically, it’s very difficult to clone higher animals. With other species, it usually involves the creation of hundreds of embryos before one viable clone is born.
Human clones have already been created. More specifically, human cloned embryos have been created by several laboratories. Though controversial, this is known as therapeutic cloning and could be a way of producing a source of stem cells to treat diseases such as diabetes and cancer. For example, in 2005 scientists from Newcastle University produced the UK’s first cloned human embryos, though it will be some time before cell-based therapies are on offer to the public as a matter of course. In all known cases where cloned human embryos have been created, they have not been allowed to survive beyond a few days.
Reproductive cloning is illegal in many countries, but apparently, it hasn’t stopped some people from trying.
Dr. Severino Antinori, who is an Italian gynecologist caused a flurry of controversy in the late 1990’s and the early part of the new millennium when he announced his intentions to clone humans for infertile couples. There were newspaper articles and rumours that he had helped three women to carry cloned babies. Also at this time several other organisations and scientists announced their intentions to clone humans, with predictions that cloned humans would be walking the Earth within a matter of months. Amongst those making such claims were Dr Panos Zavos, a one-time colleague of Antinori, and a company called Clonaid.
Are there Cloned Humans?
It’s impossible to say. If there are, their whereabouts are hidden and the scientists involved are remaining tight-lipped. Though it is important to remember that mainstream science is highly sceptical of any claims of cloned humans and that will remain the case until such boasts can be verified.