Scientist Details Failed Attempts at Reproductive Human Cloning in New Paper

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jul 21, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Scientist Details Failed Attempts at Reproductive Human Cloning in New Paper Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
July 21, 2006

Washington, DC ( — A maverick scientist has written the first-ever paper published in a medical journal that details attempts at reproductive human cloning. Dr. Panayiotis Zavos of Kentucky claims to have tried and failed five times to create a cloned human baby — something pro-life advocates and the scientific community strongly opposes.

Zavos first announced in January 2004 that he was trying human reproductive cloning, but he said at the time that he failed in an attempt to clone a baby, though he wouldn’t provide any more information.

Zavos failed in a second effort, according to a September 2005 announcement.

He has published a new paper of his cloning exploits in a journal called the Archives of Andrology. He says the cloned human embryos he claims to have made consisted of only four cells.

In the paper, he claims to have tried human cloning five times, but failing to produce a human clone on each occasion. The cloning experiments have taken place in a foreign country that Zavos refuses to name.

He says he tried to create a cloned human embryo for a Middle Eastern couple, but would not say where they lived. He indicated the embryo used the father’s DNA.

Zavos previously reported that he created four cloned human embryos that he implanted in a 33-year-old Middle-Eastern woman. However, none of the unborn children survived the process.

In his January 2004 cloning attempt, Zavos placed a single unborn child in the womb of a 25 year-old woman.

The paper claims that two of the eggs Zavos used failed to divide and a third grew only to be four cells in size.

The Archives of Andrology paper lists two authors, Zavos and Karl Illmensee, a scientists whose previous claims at human cloning were called fraudulent. However, the Boston Globe reports that this may be the last paper Zavos publishes in it because the journal is about to change its name and a new editor is planning to take it in a new direction.

Zavos has come under intense criticism for his cloning work, in part because it has resulted in the destruction of an untold number of human embryos — days-old unborn children.
"Zavos has made it clear to the entire world that he intends to keep his name in the headlines at least once every couple of months by making some fantastic claim about his cloning prowess," says Ben Mitchell of the Center for Bioethics and Culture.

"He so desperately wants to go down in history as a cloning pioneer that he is willing to break all the rules of good science, stopping short so far of breaking the law," Mitchell added.

Zavos’ work causes more problems for bioethics and pro-life advocates who oppose embryonic stem cell research because it uses the same cloning process some scientists want to use to create human embryos to destroy for their stem cells.

Rev. Tadeusz Pacholczyk, director of education at the National Catholic Bioethics Center in Philadelphia, told the Boston Glove that Zavos’ work should make more people concerned about human cloning for research.

"The idea that we can just have therapeutic cloning is perhaps a bit naive," he said.

Zavos is a professor emeritus at the University of Kentucky and the director of Reprogen Ltd, a cloning company based in Cyprus.

He claims "hundreds" of couples have contacted him about using human cloning.

After his last announcement, a group of scientists and researchers issued an open letter to media outlets to not give Zavos any further publicity on his unsubstantiated cloning claims.