|12-27-2002, 01:33 PM||#1|
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Group claims first cloned human born
Clonaid founded by Raelians, who believe aliens created humans
HOLLYWOOD, Florida (CNN) --A company founded by a religious group that believes humans were created by extraterrestrials said Friday that it has created the first human clone -- a 7-pound baby girl it calls Eve.
"I am very pleased to announce that the first baby clone is born," said Brigitte Boisselier, the scientific director of Clonaid and a bishop in the group, called the Raelians. "She was born yesterday at 11:55 a.m. in the country where she was born. She is fine."
Boisselier refused to disclose where Eve was born but did reveal that the mother is a 31-year-old American citizen. She said Eve was created using DNA from the mother's skin cells and is a twin of her mother.
In an exclusive interview with CNN after the announcement, Boisselier said advances in the field of human in-vitro fertilization and cow cloning added to her success.
"We have experts with 24 years of experience in the reproduction of humans and benefited from that.... (and also from) the work that has been done on cow cloning, of course," Boisselier said. "My expert, the one technician that did the embryo, did more than 3,000 cow embryos before touching any human eggs."
At the news conference, Boisselier said four other cloned babies are expected to be born by February.
Boisselier offered no immediate proof of her claim -- or photographs of the baby. She said the baby is healthy, and that the family is "very happy."
She said that she is allowing a freelance journalist to verify her claim. To that end, freelance journalist and physicist Dr. Michael Guillen has picked a panel of independent experts to investigate.
"I have accepted on two conditions: that the invitation be given with no strings attached whatsoever and that the tests be conducted by a group of independent world-class experts," Guillen said.
The experts will begin their tests in a few days when Eve returns home, Boisselier said. Results of the tests are expected in eight to nine days.
Clonaid, which calls itself the "first human cloning company," was founded by the Raelians in 1997. The Raelian movement professes that life on Earth was created through genetic engineering by extraterrestrials.
The Raelians believe their spiritual leader -- former French journalist Claude Vorilhon who now calls himself Rael -- is a direct descendant of these aliens. He says he has met with aliens and visited their planet. Rael told CNN in July 2001 that the long-term goal for human cloning is to live forever.
Rael says the Raelians eventually want to learn how to clone an adult and then "transfer the brain to the clone." Boisselier said she hopes to one day open cloning clinics on each continent to help infertile couples have families.
More clones on the way?
To make a clone, scientists first take an egg and remove all of its genetic material. Then the nucleus of a cell -- any cell in the body -- is taken from the individual to be cloned and inserted into the hollowed-out egg.
The cell is then given a jolt of electricity or put in a chemical bath to activate cell division -- essentially tricking the cell into doing what a fertilized egg would normally do. Then the embryo is implanted into a woman's uterus who carries the baby to term.
Boisselier said Clonaid used this procedure of electricity to activate cell division for Eve.
At the conference, Boisselier defended human cloning, saying she is giving hope to infertile parents.
"Is my science, giving babies to parents who have been dying to get one with their own genes, is my science worse than the ones who are preparing bombs to kill people?" Boisselier said. "I am creating life."
Eve is one of ten implantations done by Clonaid. Five babies were spontaneously terminated during the first few weeks of pregnancy, Boisselier said. The next baby is expected to be born next week in northern Europe. Three other cloned human babies should be born by early February; Boisselier revealed that two of the expecting sets of parents are from Asia and another is from North America. She also said one couple is lesbian and two had babies who died and were then cloned by Clonaid.
'Not a monster'
Despite the success of the procedure, Boisselier said the event should be kept in perspective.
"It's very important to remember we are talking about a baby," Boisselier said. "She is not a monster or some result of something that is disgusting. She is a very healthy baby with very happy parents."
Rael and the parents of Eve were not at the press conference.
The Raelians are also not the only group claiming to actively try to clone a human.
Italian doctor Severino Antinori made several announcements in recent months, claiming that a woman was carrying a human clone, which would be born in January. And former University of Kentucky professor Panos Zavos has also announced plans to clone a human, but he told CNN earlier this year he had not successfully created an embryo yet.
White House spokeswoman Claire Buchan said President Bush "believes like most Americans that human cloning is deeply concerning and he strongly supports legislation banning human cloning."
The cloning was pursued "despite widespead skepticism among scientists and medical professionals," Buchan said.
The announcement "underscores the need for the new Congress to act on a bipartisan bill to ban human cloning."
|12-27-2002, 02:29 PM||#2|
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