Last year, the controversial doctor announced that he had unlmited funding for cloning research and up to 700 couples willing to be cloned. In 1994, he made headlines by helping a 62-year-old woman to give birth.
Aside from the philosophical and moral issues that have always surrounded cloning research, there are plenty of practical reasons, ethicists say, why it’s too early to begin human cloning, as detailed in this WebMD article.
First, there’s the risks to the mother. The rate of pregnancy failures and late abortions is very high with animal cloning, which Antinori himself just verified with human cloning. Because of the clone fetus’s excessive weight and a placenta seven times normal size, a cesarean section is always needed in cloned animals. Thomas H. Murray, PhD, president of the Hastings Center in Garrison, N.Y. says, “Cloning mammals has been thus far a dismal record of failures–dead, dying, and deformed clones, and threats to the health and life of the females bearing cloned fetuses.”
Rudolf Jaenisch, MD, a professor of biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston and a pioneer in animal models of gene transfer, is concerned that clones could have subtle genetic defects showing up later. “Dolly the cloned sheep is grossly obese, and probably not normal,” he says. “Molly the cloned cow dropped dead in the field one day for unknown reasons.” Jaenisch is also worried about brain damage–“We can’t assess that in a sheep that just eats grass all day.”
It looks like we’ll have an opportunity to assess that now.