Thursday, April 23, 2009

Kentucky Doctor Cloning Humans?

Who is Dr.Panayiotis Zavos?

Well, he's a Lexington doctor who runs something called the Zavos Organization, dedicated to cloning; President and CEO of Zavos Diagnostic Laboratories, Inc. which markets infertility products and technologies; Founder, Director and Chief Andrologist of the Andrology Institute of America; Founder and Director of Reprocell Technologies and The Home Fertility Network. And don't even get me started on the The BioTranz Chilled Semen Shipper.

As if all of this weren't dazzling/confusing enough, Dr. Zavos also operates The International Institute for Gender Selection, which hawks something called "Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis (PGD)", which, their site says, "is a medical procedure which allows embryos to be tested for gender-related genetic conditions, prior to being placed in the womb, giving the best opportunity to select the healthiest embryos and simultaneously choose the gender of your baby". And then there's the impenetrably named EZYIUI, and my personal favorite, Home Semen Analysis.

All of these websites, organizations, institutes, companies, corporations, and services emanate from 181 Southland Drive in Lexington, which turns out to be the offices of Dr. Zavos. Even The Andrology Institute of Pakistan is run out of this office!

Dr. Zavos (I keep starting to type "Dr. Zaius") put Kentucky in the news a few years back when he claimed he'd produced the world's first human cloned embryo intended for reproduction. But later, when pressed for proof, admitted that the procedure hadn't worked. Next he reported having produced hybrid half-cow-half-human cloned embryos. (As if humans aren't bovine enough already!)

Now Dr. Zavos is back, claiming to have finally successfully cloned human embryos from the DNA of a dead little girl. But instead of going through the traditional scientific channels, the good Doctor decided to take his case to the Discovery Channel instead, who have videotaped a special about his alleged Frankensteinian breakthroughs. Needless to say, this rather oddball move has elicited more jeers than cheers from interested parties.

Now, I won't go so far as others have and accuse this whole thing of being outright quackery. Zavos is apparently one imaginative and ambitious freethinker with a flair for razzle-dazzle and PR, and I can't fault him for his self-determinism. I won't even necessarily come out against human cloning, in principle. But as Will Smith once said, "This definitely rates about a 9.0 on my weird-shit-o-meter."

Meanwhile, the world will just have to sit and wait and see if the scientific establishment accepts these latest findings from The Island of Dr. Zavos. Peer-reviewed qualitative analysis of his work could take years, assuming anyone even bothers to try. But while we wait, we can visit more of his baffling websites like BioTranz Express, The Zavos Home Conception Pak™,, The Middle East In Vitro Fertilization Clinic, Conceive At Home, Repromed International, Zbay, The Fertility Zone, Fertility Zoom, and, of course, Fert Mart.

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