Scientist 'has cloned human'

A scientist has claimed to have successfully cloned the first human baby - apparently born to a 31-year-old mother on Boxing Day.


But scientists are highly sceptical about her claim because she is linked to a French sect that believes life on earth was created by extra-terrestrials.


Independent verification is said to be underway but has yet to be established.


Dr Brigitte Boisselier is a chemist who heads Clonaid, a company set up in 1997 to create cloned humans.


She says that the world's first human clone, a 7lb baby girl named Eve, born at 11.55am on Thursday to an American mother.


She would not say in which country the baby was born but said the child is a clone of the woman who donated the DNA for the cloning process.


If confirmed, that would make the child an exact genetic duplicate of her mother. The woman is said to have been previously married and to already have another child.


Dr Boisellier announced the birth at a press conference, saying she wanted to protect the mother's and child's privacy, but adding she hoped they would talk to the press soon.


She said: "The baby is very healthy. She's doing fine. We're very happy parents."


She said the baby will go home in three days, and an independent expert will take DNA samples to prove she had been cloned.


She has also recruited the former science editor of America's ABC News, now a freelance journalist, to act as an independent adjudicator of the evidence.


Those test results are expected within a week after the testing.


Dr Boisellier further claimed that the baby was cloned from a skin cell, and said four more human clones are due to be born, one to a lesbian couple in northern Europe, one in north America and two in Asia.


She said two of the four about to be born would be clones of dead children.


Most scientists, already sceptical of Boisellier's ability to produce a human clone, are likely to demand to know exactly how the DNA testing was done before they believe the announcement.


Clonaid was founded in the Bahamas in 1997 by Claude Vorilhon, a former French journalist and leader of a group called the Raelians.


Vorilhon and his followers claim aliens visiting him in the 1970s revealed they had created all life on Earth through genetic engineering.


Dr Patrick Dixon, a leading expert on the ethics of human cloning, described the news as "totally inevitable" but warned that it would mark a watershed when the world would suddenly realise that science is

spinning out of control.


He said: "There's a global race by maverick scientists to produce clones, motivated by fame, money and warped and twisted beliefs.


"Today's announcement is totally inevitable and we can expect a number of other births of clones over the next few weeks."


He said that physicians across the world were propelled by "private passions and weird emotions" with the determination to deliver a cloned baby to any man or woman who wished to "duplicate themselves or recover

the dead".


He said the cloning industry, and today's announcement, was worth tens of millions of pounds.