South Korea Launches National Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bank

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 19, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Korea Launches National Embryonic Stem Cell Research Bank Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 19, 2005

Seoul, South Korea ( — In an effort to solidify its status as an international leader in embryonic stem cell research, the national government in South Korea launched on Wednesday a national stem cell bank that would store stem cells available for scientists there to use in research.

With generous government support and without leading political figures trying to stop the research on moral grounds, South Korea has quickly become a home for maverick scientists who engage in the research that destroys human life as well as human cloning.

"The work being done here is not about getting ahead financially. It‘s about starting international cooperation that will go on to benefit the entire mankind," President Roh Moo-hyun said at the opening of the World Stem Cell Hub.

Stem cells will be stored at Seoul National University Hospital and also be made available to international research in addition to those in the Asian nation.

Stem cells banks already exist in the United States and Britain, but South Korea hopes to turn its bank into the international leader. The country has invested 30 billion in stem cell research, according to Jung-gi, chief executive of the hub project.

Professor Hwang Woo-suk, the human cloning scientist and his team of researchers at Seoul National University made international headlines earlier this year when they created embryonic stem cells using a patient’s genetic material, derived through cloning human embryos. They also created the first dog from stem cells using the somatic nuclear cell
transfer process that created Dolly the sheep.

Hwang’s team has created Snuppy, an Afghan hound. Despite claims of success, Snuppy, named after Seoul National University where Hwang’s lab is based, was born after many failures.

Snuppy was the lone success of more than 1000 dog embryos implanted into 100 dogs. Opponents of human cloning worry that scientists like Hwang will eventually take the practice to human and destroys thousands of human lives in the process.

Dolly was finally created after 300 failed attempts, resulting in miscarriages and malformed offspring. Ultimately, the "successful" result, Dolly, aged too rapidly and had to be euthanized.

David Stevens, MD, director of the Christian Medical Association, says supporters of Hwang need to know from the failures of animal cloning that human cloning will result in the deaths of hundreds of tiny unborn human beings every time it is attempted.

"We know from animal cloning that the technical problems and dangers associated with cloning will never produce therapies that these researchers speculate could be applied to human beings," Dr. Stevens explained.