Sir John Gurdon, whose work cloning frogs in the 1950s and 60s led to the later creation of Dolly the sheep by Edinburgh scientists in 1996, said that progression to human cloning could happen within half a century.
Although any attempt to clone an entire human would raise a host of complex ethical issues, the biologist claimed people would soon overcome their concerns if the technique became medically useful.
In-vitro fertilisation was regarded with extreme suspicion when it was first developed but became widely accepted after the birth of Louise Brown, the first “test tube baby”, in 1978, he explained.
Major improvements in cloning methods would have to be made before they could be applied to humans because the vast majority of cloned animal embryos today are deformed, he added.
Speaking on BBC Radio Four’s The Life Scientific, Sir John said he had predicted at the time of his frog experiments that the successful cloning of a mammal would happen within 50 years, and that “maybe the same answer is appropriate” for the step to human cloning.