BBC News Story
The Italian fertility doctor who last year announced plans to clone humans has reportedly said that one of the women he has been treating is pregnant with an embryo clone. Dr Severino Antinori made the comments to a reporter for the Gulf News following a medical conference in the United Arab Emirates.
He said that one of the women in his care is eight weeks pregnant with a foetus that has been produced using cloning technology.
He refused to give any further details, and his office in Rome would not confirm or deny the story to the BBC.
In the middle of last year, Dr Antinori was one of three doctors who told the world of their plans to clone humans. He has been quoted as saying he views cloning as just another form of assisted reproduction - one stage on from in-vitro fertilisation.
Since the announcement, Dr Antinori has largely been shunned by the scientific establishment, with many prominent researchers describing his plans as irresponsible.
Animal cloning has low rates of success, and there is evidence that surviving animals are prone to poor health and genetic defects.
If Dr Antinori really has attempted to clone a human, the implications will be enormous.
If the pregnancy is successful, many other doctors will want to follow his lead - but a failure would provide renewed impetus for a global ban on human cloning, which the United Nations is working towards.
The British bioethicist Dr Donald Bruce said he thought the latest news was just "empty publicity".
"If it was true, a responsible scientist would announce such an event in the proper way," said the director of the Church of Scotland's Society, Religion and Technology Project.