Tokyo -- A team of scientists from Clonaid, a human cloning company linked with the Raelian movement, were working with "10 to 20 clients" on the firm's human cloning project, said an official from the company today. "We chose them from a client list of a couple of thousand people," said Thomas Kaenzig, vicepresident of Clonaid.
"We are working with about 50 surrogate mothers," he said, adding that the company would present some results of its project "in a couple of months time."
Kaenzig was at the first International Bio Expo Japan, a medical industry trade show that showcased products and services from about 250 Japanese and foreign exhibitors, including Du Pont and Roche Diagnostics.
Clonaid showed off its "embryonic cell fusion system", which, Kaenzig said, creates the stable electronic pulse required to develop human embryos to the blastocyst stage.
That is the stage generally about five or six days after fertilisation at which the embryo is made up of about 100 to 150 cells.
The device, the RMX 2010 which resembles a car battery, and is for sale at $9,000 dollars, was manufactured by BioFusion Tech of South Korea, a Clonaid affiliate established about two months ago.
The "2010" designation reflected the hope that cloning would be commonplace by year 2010, said Jung Yung Pyo, sales director at BioFusion Tech.
Despite a promise on the company's website that it would present partial results of its cloning process at the fair, Kaenzig, a Swiss native and Raelian follower, declined to say how far the group was from bringing the first human clone into the world.
But Kaenzig said the company had created "a few hundred" human blastocysts and "you know what the next step is".
Clonaid argues its cloning technology will help people suffering from infertility as well as single and gay people who want genetic offspring.
"Thanks to reproductive cloning, they can fulfil their dreams," Kaenzig said. Cloning of one person would cost about 200000, he said.
"After the first (cloned) baby is presented, people will see it's okay. It is a reproductive technology. Why are we launching this product (RMX 2010) here? We felt Asian countries are more open to new technologies," he said.
Clonaid faced resistance in western nations, especially by "conservative Christian groups".
The Raelians, who claim 55,000 followers worldwide, believe life on Earth was established by extraterrestrials who arrived in space ships 25,000 years ago and that humans were created by cloning.