The birth of the first cloned human may be just a few year away, according to a controversial fertility doctor who says he cloned 14 human embryos and transferred 11 of them to into the wombs of four women.
While none of the women had a viable pregnancy as a result of the procedure, the test is a major step toward creating cloned humans, suggested Dr. Panayiotis Zavos.
"There is absolutely no doubt about it ... the cloned child is coming. There is absolutely no way it will not happen," he told Britain's Independent newspaper, Agence France Presse reported.
Other scientists have created cloned embryos in test tubes in order to harvest stem cells, but Zavos has broken what's viewed as a taboo by implanting cloned embryos in women's wombs. His work is condemned by many fertility experts, who question the safety and morality of his methods.
Zavos is a naturalized U.S. citizen, but it's believed he carried out the cloned embryo procedures somewhere in the Middle East in order to evade the U.S. ban on human cloning, AFP reported.
The procedures were recorded by a documentary maker and will be shown on the Discovery Channel in Britain Wednesday.
Reaction to the claim was swift, as the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) issued a statement calling attempts at human cloning unethical.
"We have read the press reports on a documentary to air tonight purporting to show attempts to transfer clonal human embryos," the ASRM statement said. "Nine years ago, The Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine issued a report calling attempts at human cloning unethical. This statement was reviewed in 2006. The statement concludes, 'As long as the safety of reproductive SCNT is uncertain, ethical issues have been insufficiently explored, and infertile couples have alternatives for conception, the use of reproductive SCNT by medical professionals does not meet standards of ethical acceptability.' Nothing we have seen since has caused us to change our views. Any attempt to create a cloned human embryo for gestation and birth is ethically, scientifically, and clinically unacceptable," the statement concluded.