Racing for the Human Clone

ByABC News
September 6, 2001, 7:06 PM

Sept. 7 -- West Virginia attorney Mark Hunt, who funded a secret human cloning lab that was recently exposed, says he has not given up hope that he will one day produce a clone of his baby son.

"I am not going to start up another laboratory," says Hunt, who served three terms in the state Legislature. "However if the technology would become available in the future, we certainly would never give up on our son."

Hunt and his wife Tracy had enlisted the help of French biochemist Dr. Brigitte Boisselier. A leader in the field of cloning, Boisselier is a member of the Raelians, who have a religious commitment to cloning stemming from their belief that life on earth was cloned long ago by a race of alien scientists.

The Hunts did not share her religious beliefs, and they had a falling out.

"Her interests in the press have been to forward and promote her religion, more than forward and promote the science," says Hunt.

Mission to Clone

At only 10 months old, Hunt's first son Andrew died after open surgery to address several birth defects. Soon afterward, the Hunts set out to make scientific history by producing another child with identical DNA; a sort of living memorial to Andrew.

"I think any parent would do everything in their power for their child," says Hunt. "So the least we can do for him is try to reproduce something from his body that would give his genetic makeup, his DNA, a chance to go on."

The Hunts agreed to pay Boisselier up to $5,000 a month and to fully finance a cloning lab. They also helped form a company called Bioserve, which would offer cloning services to other clients after successfully cloning Andrew.

Boisselier proposed using the same technique that had been used successfully in cloning animals. The DNA would be extracted from a cell in Andrew's tissue and then inserted into a human egg in which the original DNA had been removed. The resulting egg would then be placed into a surrogate mother's womb and allowed to grow into a fetus.