Hwang’s Older Embryonic Stem Cell Research Paper May Have Problems

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 22, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Hwang’s Older Embryonic Stem Cell Research Paper May Have Problems Too Email this article
Printer friendly page

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 22, 2005

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The medical journal Science has announced it is also going to investigate an older stem cell research paper authored by embattled South Korea human cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk. A 2004 paper it published brought Hwang to international prominence.

In the paper, Hwang claimed to be the first to have cloned human embryos and the first to kill a cloned embryo for stem cells.

At issue are two photographs Hwang used to illustrate his claims of advancing embryonic stem cell research. According to Science, the photos appear to resemble two others appearing in another medical journal on an unrelated topic.

The pictures in Hwang’s 2004 Science paper appear to be from a series of photographs that appeared in 2003 in the journal Molecules and Cells.

"The editors of Science are reviewing both the 2004 and 2005 papers from Dr. Hwang’s laboratory in light of new questions about the authenticity of images in the 2004 paper," the journal said in a statement on Tuesday. "So far, there has been no substantiated charge."

This is the latest in a long line of ethical breaches and cover-ups Hwang has engaged in. He admitted lying about human egg donations to junior female researchers made and he’s come under investigation for allegedly fabricating most or all of his embryonic stem cell research published in a Science article this year.

Hwang has admitted only to slopping reporting and has maintained that his claims of cloning 11 human embryos to produce patient-specific embryonic stem cells are true.

Moon Shin-yong, who played a key role on Hwang’s research team, asked Seoul National University officials to look into the 2004 paper. They are also conducting a probe into the other problems.

"In the scientific community, when one paper is proven to be fabricated, it is customary to review all related papers," Dr. Moon said. He told the South China Morning Post newspaper he "currently doesn’t know" if there is any problem with the article.

Hwang’s photos associated with his 2005 paper have also come under a cloud of controversy and Hwang says his team made a mistake by sending duplicate photos of two embryonic stem cell lines in place of the 11 he supposedly created.

Embryonic stem cells have yet to cure any patients and Hwang’s research was critical to overcoming a huge hurdle — a patient’s immune system rejecting embryonic stem cell transplants. If Hwang’s research is illegitimate, that represents a huge failure and setback for the controversial research.