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Human Cloning Is Underway in Italy

A scientific and social uproar is not slowing an attempt to clone a human being. In Rome, Italy, this morning, the project leader spoke of the narrowed field of candidates in line to produce the first cloned baby.

Italian fertility specialist Dr. Severino Antinori confirmed today in Rome that he would go ahead with attempts to clone a human being. Antinori previously created a sensation when he used standard techniques to allow a 62-year-old woman to have a baby. Now, he says, hundreds of infertile couples--"who want to become father and mother, to create a new human life," says Antinori--have asked him to produce a cloned baby.

Antinori--who is collaborating with fertility specialist Panos Zavos, who is from Lexington, Kentucky--plans to implant the DNA from an adult's cell into a stripped-down egg from a woman.

British experts used the technique to create Dolly, the world's first cloned sheep, but leading scientists say it would be extremely dangerous and unethical to try it on humans.

"It took 277 attempts to produce Dolly and on the way there were many malformed embryos, early abortions, and deaths, and you can't experiment on women like that," says Dr. Ruth Deech, chair of the British Human Fertilization Authority.

Despite the widespread opposition, Antinori says he expects to produce the first cloned human being in 2 years.

Tom Fenton, CBS News, London.

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