Scientists respond as maverick cloning scientist Dr Panos Zavos announces successful experiments to create cloned embryos using DNA from dead people.
Dr Simon Fishel, Managing Director, CARE Fertility Group, said:
“Now is the time to use the full weight of the international community for a worldwide ban on reproductive cloning. This would remove the false hope given by mavericks to patients. Any purported research should be published through reputable scientific journals and then be repeated by reputable scientists before any credence may be given. To use human DNA in a cow’s egg will only create confusion rather than understanding of reproductive technology. At worst this is misleading and exploitative to the patients funding the research. The respectable way forward would be to have a peer reviewed research grant funded by a scientific body.”
Professor John Harris, Sir David Alliance Professor of Bioethics, University of Manchester, said:
“If experimental procedures of this sort are to be attempted it is essential they take place in a robust regulatory framework – as in the UK. Such a framework is capable of preventing any abuse of the science.”
Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, Head of Developmental Genetics, National Institute for Medical Research, said:
“This man prays on the strong desires of the most vunerable people in society – giving them false hopes. We have yet to see any proper description of any of the procedures that Dr Zavos claims to be able to use. He should publish his research in a recognised journal to prove that he is not a charlatan.”
Richard Kennedy, Secretary of the British Fertility Society and Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist, said:
“The BFS condemns reported attempts at human reproductive cloning. Attempts at human reproductive cloning are ethically unacceptable to the vast majority of the scientific community and the general public. In addition, we have in the past highlighted the dangers of attempts at human reproductive cloning (http://www.fertility.org.uk/news/pressrelease/03_08-cloning_warning.html). Dr Zavos does not seem to have taken either of these considerations into account.
“The BFS wishes to promote advances in reproductive medicine and supports research into the use of stem cells and their application in the treatment of chronic disease, but this must take place within an ethical framework, and must show responsibility to the wellbeing of all concerned. There is no evidence that this research meets these criteria.
“We hope that unsubstantiated work by mavericks will not tarnish the valuable work of research groups looking into therapeutic cloning technologies for responsible and ethical purposes.”
Sir John Sulston, Sanger Centre, said:
“It is perfectly conceivable that someone, at some point, will clone a human being, since the technology to do this in other animals is becoming more commonplace. However, the procedure is far from perfect. So to clone humans now is highly unethical because, even if successful, it is likely to result in serious birth defects.”
A spokesperson for the British Medical Association, said:
“The BMA is opposed to the deliberate creation of genetically identical individuals and welcomed the passage of the Human Reproductive Cloning Act 2001, which made human reproductive cloning illegal. The BMA also believes that the government should take an active part in moves to negotiate an international ban.”