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Tuesday, January 30, 2001 A Publication of the Newspeak Association Volume No. 66, Issue 3

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-When family turns on TV, VCR or computer, AOL Time Warner is there
-Italian doctor says he plans human clone within next year
-Science has gone too far, says manifesto by world-religions expert
-Jokes and poems: E-mail brings more politics into the workplace

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Italian doctor says he plans human clone within next year


Courtesy of Associated Press

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) _ An Italian fertility expert said he will attempt to clone a human being within the next year and has about 10 couples who are potential candidates for the procedure.

One American couple is among the infertile couples Dr. Severino Antinori of Rome is considering for the ``therapeutic cloning.''

Antinori lectured Thursday at Samaritan Hospital in Lexington. He was in town to visit Panos Zavos, a Lexington-based reproductive physiologist and close friend.

Antinori is forming an ``international coalition'' of scientific experts to work on the project. He said the process would be reserved for people who have no other way of conceiving children.

Zavos said he will join Antinori's scientific coalition, which is to meet in Rome in March. While acknowledging that attempting to clone a human child is certain to generate emotional opposition, Zavos said cloning may be inevitable given science's growing understanding of human reproduction.

But David Magnus, an ethicist with the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, argued later that, ethical considerations aside, scientists don't yet have enough knowledge to safely attempt human cloning.

``It's very risky and dangerous to be trying this long before we've worked out safe procedures ... and children can't consent to be born,'' Magnus said.

Antinori, however, argued that his system is safe and that the chance to help infertile couples who otherwise could not have children outweighs objections.

``Life is important,'' he declared. ``The goal to be a father, to be a mother, is a human right. An absolute human right.''

Antinori, 55, is an internationally known pioneer in assisted reproduction techniques for patients with problems conceiving. He is widely known for developing methods that have allowed women in their late 50s and early 60s to become pregnant.

He has been featured in reports on CBS's 60 Minutes, and in the international press. But his work has drawn ethical criticism from the Roman Catholic Church in Italy and scientific criticism from some European doctors who argue that pregnancy poses severe health risks for older women.

Once the stuff of science fiction, human cloning suddenly loomed as a real possibility after Scottish scientists in 1997 announced the successful cloning of a sheep they named ``Dolly.'' Pigs and other animals have been cloned since then. In 1998, Chicago physicist Richard Seed announced his intention to clone a human but never carried it out.

The same year, South Korean scientists claimed to have cloned a human embryo, but they made no attempt to implant it into a woman's body to grow into an infant. The British Parliament this week approved legislation to legalize human cloning in England, although the purpose there is to produce stem cells for research, not to create a human being.

Antinori would say only that the cloning project would be attempted in some country in the Mediterranean area. Italy probably would be ruled out because of Vatican opposition. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration won't allow human cloning in the United States.

As described by Antinori, the cloning process would first require the removal of a few cells from somewhere on a male patient's body, perhaps the skin. Genetic material from the cells would be united with a normal human egg. The combined material then would be artificially ``stimulated'' to start cell division. After a few days, if all went well, the resulting embryo would be placed in a mother's womb to grow and develop into a baby.

Zavos said he thinks the procedure could be done with existing reproductive technology and could produce healthy children with minimal risk. But Magnus argued otherwise.

''Whoever does the first one has got to worry about birth defects,'' Magnus said. ``I suspect that we will never hear about the first human clone because the first, maybe the first 10, will be quite deformed with birth defects and probably will be aborted. I doubt that we'll hear any public announcement until they have a successful, healthy birth.''


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