Embryonic Stem Cell Research Study Was Falsified, University Confirms

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 23, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Embryonic Stem Cell Research Study Was Falsified, University Confirms Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
December 23, 2005

Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — An inquiry conducted by Seoul National University has concluded and found that what was thought to be a groundbreaking embryonic stem cell research study was fabricated. The results of the investigation are a major setback for the controversial research, which has yet to cure any patients.

"There is sufficient evidence that results were deliberately manipulated, and Professor Hwang accepts this at some level," SNU representative Roe Jung-hye told a press briefing on Friday.

"This matter is grave enough to shake the very foundations of scientific research," she said.

The SNU panel of scientists charged with examining Hwang Woo-suk’s research said he deliberately faked the results of the embryonic stem cell studies.

The panel explained that "the laboratory data for 11 stem cell lines that were reported in the 2005 paper were all data made using two stem cell lines in total.”

"This kind of error is a grave act that damages the foundation of science,” the panel said.

Hwang had claimed in a paper published in the medical journal Science in May that he had overcome a significant barrier for embryonic stem cell research progress. He claimed to have cloned human embryos and created patient-specific stem cells that would have avoided immune system rejection issues. Those claims are false, the SNU probe reveals.

As a result, the failure of embryonic stem cells to treat numerous diseases remains.

The SNU probe revealed that Hwang’s team, in order to create the faked results, split stem cells from one patient into two test tubes for analysis — rather than actually matched the cloned embryonic stem cells with those of the patient.

"Based on these facts, the data in the 2005 Science paper cannot be some error from a simple mistake, but can only be seen as a deliberate fabrication to make it look like 11 stem-cell lines using results from just two," the panel said.

"There is no way but that Professor Hwang has been involved," the university’s dean of research affairs, Roe Jung-hye told a news conference. Hwang "somewhat admits to this," he added.

The panel confirmed nine of the eleven claimed patient-specific embryonic stem cells were falsified and it said DNA tests on the other two lines will be available within days.

Hwang has admitted that his paper contains some falsification, but claimed that it related solely to the accidental duplication of some photos that accompanied it. He claims to have created the patient-specific embryonic stem cells but that they were later contaminated.

The panel said it would also investigate a 2004 Science article containing Hwang’s initial claim to have successfully cloned human embryos. That paper is coming under scrutiny as the photos accompanying it appear to have come from a 2003 paper in another publication on an unrelated topic.