by Steven Ertelt
December 16, 2005
Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — Embattled South Korean human cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk is defending his team’s embryonic stem cell research today even though one of his top associates admitted Thursday it was almost all fabricated.
Yesterday, Roh Sung-il, a top Hwang associate, said that a seminal research paper published in May was false and that Hwang’s team did not successfully use human cloning to create patient-specific embryonic stem cells.
Hwang disputed that assertion.
"Our research team made patient-specific embryonic stem cells and we have the source technology to produce them," Hwang told a news conference.
His said his work was without "one percent of doubt."
Hwang said some of the embryonic stem cells died because of contamination but that the others were being thawed and he would be able to prove the results of his research in the next 10 days.
Despite his comments, Hwang said the article his team wrote for the medical journal Science should still be withdrawn because of problems with the accompanying pictures. Hwang apologized for "fatal errors and loopholes in reporting the scientific accomplishment."
Roh told the Associated Press Friday that he stands by his comments that Hwang’s team did not successfully clone the 11 lines of embryonic stem cells.
"He’s avoiding taking the responsibility that he should take," Roh said. "Nine stem cells appear to be fake and two others are not confirmed yet."
Roh also told AP that he doubted Hwang would be able to prove his results because he told Roh Thursday that no embryonic stem cells from the experiments remain because they all died in the lab.
"What can I say if Hwang changes the remarks he made with his own mouth yesterday," Roh told AP.
A researcher who told South Korean media Thursday that he was ordered by Hwang to falsify the results of the research, defended Hwang on Friday.
Kim Sun-jong, who is now with former Hwang partner Gerald Schatten at the University of Pittsburgh, told KBS television he had seen eight of the embryonic stem cell lines.
"The stem cells were cultivated through normal procedures and eight members of Hwang’s research team verified them every morning," Kim told KBS.
Seoul National University, where Hwang is a professor of veterinary medicine, is still looking into the controversy and on Friday appointed a nine-member commission to examine the allegations Hwang’s research was falsified.
Hwang has been under fire since admitting last month that he lied about and attempted to cover up the egg donations of two of his junior female researchers — a violation of international ethics guidelines.