Maverick Italian fertility doctor, Severino Antinori, announced at a press conference in Rome last week that the world's first cloned human baby will be born early next year. He said that although he will not be involved in the baby's delivery, he had given a 'cultural and scientific contribution' to scientists working on the pregnancy.
He would not name the woman who will supposedly give birth to the child, nor would he say her age or where, when or from whom the embryo was cloned. He also did not talk about the two other women that he claimed earlier this year were also carrying cloned fetuses. The only information he did give was that the cloned fetus due to be born in January was healthy, currently weighing approximately six pounds.
Antinori's latest claim has been met with scepticism by other experts in the field. Dr Anne McLaren, based at the Wellcome/Cancer Research Institute in Cambridge, UK, said that his claim 'is unlikely to be true'. Cloning experts at the Roslin Institute in Scotland, where Dolly the sheep was cloned, doubted that Antinori or any of his unknown colleagues had the expertise to have cloned a human, although they said that it was impossible to actually know what he had done before there was any proof. Bruno Dalapiccola, an Italian geneticist, said 'if it's true, it's horrible. People who do this type of thing don't have the right to be doctors. These fake heroes add nothing to science'.
The only way to prove whether Antinori's claims are true will be to do DNA tests comparing the person allegedly cloned with the baby when it is born.