by Steven Ertelt
December 26, 2005
Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — Seoul National University has received some initial results on whether disgraced cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk ever created any patient-specific embryonic stem cells but it’s not saying what the data shows.
Last week the university confirmed allegations from Hwang’s top associates that his team fabricated a research paper published in the medical journal Science claiming 11 embryonic stem cell lines had been created.
SNU officials probing Hwang’s research said nine of the eleven supposed lines simply don’t exist and it’s conducting DNA testing on the remaining two to determine if they are authentic.
Top Hwang associates say they doubt that the two final lines were truly taken from cloned human embryos.
Though the SNU panel of scientists did not say whether the two lines were authentic, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the initial results showed they were not cloned embryonic stem cells as Hwang’s team claimed.
The panel is expected to announce its results sometime next week.
Meanwhile, the panel interviewed top Hwang associate Kim Seon-jong, who Hwang has accused of switching non-cloned stem cells with the cloned ones his team created. The panel questioned Kim for four hours Sunday.
"We interviewed researcher Kim for a long time as he said he wanted to clear unfair accusations against him," the panel said Monday. "Kim also expressed his intention to comply if the prosecution summons him."
The panel is also looking into Hwang’s claim that his team cloned a human embryo and another claim that it cloned an Afghan hound called Snuppy — the first cloned dog.
That Hwang lied about creating the embryonic stem cells is a key factor in the debate over stem cell research. A big problem with the controversial cells is that a patient’s immune system rejects them and the creation of patient-specific cells would have overcome a huge hurdle.
Adult stem cell research has already resulted in treatments to cure or alleviate the symptoms from dozens of diseases and conditions.
Last week, Hwang apologize for the further lies and resigned his post as a professor of veterinary medicine at SNU.
Hwang apologized weeks ago for covering up egg donations made by two female members of his research team.
The international scandal cause many American scientists and research firms to announce they would not participate in the world stem cell bank Hwang recently started.