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 In March 1997, the world learned that it may be possible to produce a cloned individual from an adult mammal. The universal question was, How long before someone will try it with humans? On January 6, 1998, National Public Radio reporter Joe Palca broadcast the answer: in the coming months, if Chicago-area physicist and sometime fertility researcher Richard Seed has his way.

The 10-minute dialogue touched off a media storm, with newspapers and television jumping on it all across the country. But science writers everywhere are questioning the story's validity. Is Richard Seed credible? Is there a realistic chance that he'll get the backing he needs?

Right now he doesn't have the money, he doesn't have a firm commitment from the physician who will perform the procedure, and he doesn't have an infertile couple willing to undergo the procedure, Palca admitted during the segment.


Seed first turned to reproductive technology 20 years ago, when he founded a company to transfer embryos from prize cows to surrogate mothers. Later, Seed was part of a team that conducted the first human embryo transfer. After perfecting the fertility technique on animals, Seed attempted to apply it to humans by founding Fertility and Genetics in the 1980s. Seed used the technique to move fertilized eggs from healthy women, inseminated days before, to those with fertility problems. This effort resulted in publications in The Lanat and The Journal of the American Medical Association, whose 1984 article reported the birth of a healthy child. Despite the attention, embryo transfer never gained prominence over the competing technology, in-vitro fertilization, and the company failed.

Now 69, Seed is eager to gain investors for his latest fertility technique, needing around $2 million to initially finance a human cloning clinic. Currently, he rents lab space at the University of Illinois for his own research, and hopes to eventually establish a clinic in the United States. If regulation is passed in the United States forbidding cloning, Seed plans to move his operation to Mexico and continue to research and develop cloning technology.


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Comment by Adam Kadmon on October 13, 2011 at 6:36am

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