A cloning dilemma

an international team of fertility experts has decided to clone human beings for the first time in the world. Despite opposition from scientific and religious communities, who contend that more than 95 per cent of the cloning experiments on animals have failed so far, the experts have decided to go ahead with the project. A series of experiments will be carried out in Israel, where such trials are allowed. Ten infertile couples have volunteered to participate in the experiments. The cloning would not only help infertile couples, but will also help those in need of kidneys, for instance, to get an easy replacement, claim the experts. The project is expected to show the desired results within two years.

A clone can be created from a mature human cell (which carries a full complement of chromosomes). The genetic material is taken from the cell and inserted in an egg that has had its chromosomes removed. An electric shock brings about fusion of the egg cells, which is then implanted in the mother's uterus. The fluid from the egg helps it to undergo division and develop in the same way as an embryo.

However, only 20 per cent of the fusion succeeds as almost all the embryos abort spontaneously because of genetic or physical abnormalities, putting the health and lives of the mothers at risk. The cloned babies may die within the first few days of their birth from heart and blood vessel problems, underdeveloped lungs or immune system deficiencies. If they live, they may have deformities like enlarged placentas and fatty livers.

Very little is known about what goes wrong in cloning experiments. Many suspect that the problem involves genetic