A research company sponsored by a religious sect that claims humans were cloned by space travelers has announced the birth of the first cloned human a baby girl named Eve. The parents and the baby were not present at the news conference in Florida. The scientific director of Clonaid, Brigitte Boisselier said the world's first cloned baby was born Thursday to a 30-year-old American woman. She said the three kilo baby girl born by caesarian section and she is a clone of her own mother, using the DNA of a skin cell.
Ms. Boisselier presented no immediate proof of her claims and other scientists have expressed doubt that her group could clone a human. She said DNA tests will confirm the announcement within the next week or so.
Ms. Boisselier said the process used is similar to the method used by scientists in 1997 to clone a sheep in Scotland.
"The technique we have been using is very close to the one described for Dolly the sheep but adapted to human cells," she said.
The work of Ms. Boisselier's company, Clonaid, has been a focus of controversy since it was founded in 1997 by the Raelians, who believe life on Earth was created in laboratories by aliens from outer space. Ms. Boisselier teaches chemistry at a small college in New York State.
The Clonaid executive said four more births are expected soon and that 10 couples were chosen for the experiment.
"We have ten implantations. Five of them during the first three weeks were terminated spontaneously," she said. "Five others were successful and are still successful."
Ms. Boisselier said the birth of a second cloned baby is due next week at an unnamed location in Europe. Three more births, she said, are expected in January.
Ms. Boisselier provides few details about the parents, except to say one couple from Asia and another from North America cloned cells from their dying children. She said a lesbian couple from Northern Europe and an infertile couple from Asia also participated in the experiment.
"I had received thousands of requests. Among them some were more insisting than others. So for the last three years we have been talking with many of them. Some were ready to take risks because it was a risk. We all understand that. So they became in a sense a scientific partner," Ms. Boisselier added.
The scientific community has long denounced Clonaid's efforts. In response, Ms. Boisselier has named a trained physicist, who is also a freelance journalist, to supervise independent tests to verify that Eve is indeed genetically identical to the woman who gave birth to her.