Hwang Still Claims Colleague Sabotaged Embryonic Stem Cell Research

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 2, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Hwang Still Claims Colleague Sabotaged Embryonic Stem Cell Research

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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
January 2, 2006

Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — Disgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk is defending himself over confirmation from his university that his team faked their embryonic stem cell research and never made patient-specific embryonic stem cells.

In an interview with a Buddhist daily newspaper, Beopbo, he claims the two papers published in Science about his research were manipulated. He also repeated his allegations that other members of his research team stole or tampered with the cells at issue.

Hwang is calling on the South Korean government to investigate his allegations. Government officials have already said they will look into the matter along with answering questions about whether Hwang and his team misspent government funds.

“It is certain that a switch was made and experts will be able to see this immediately. An investigation by prosecutors will only take about two days," Hwang told the newspaper.

In early December, Hwang accused former colleague Kim Seon-jong, the first to admit that Hwang’s team’s Science paper contained duplicated photographs, of switching the cloned cells with others from a local hospital.

However, the government is checking into allegations that Hwang paid Kim to reverse his story and vouch for the research in the media.

Meanwhile, Seoul National University says it plans to take stern disciplinary measures against Hwang over his team’s faked embryonic stem cell research. Hwang’s lab is located at the college and he has already resigned as a professor of veterinary medicine.

"We will thoroughly examine the recent scandalous case and will have them take due responsibility," SNU president Chung Un-chan said, according to a Korean Herald report.

An SNU probe looked into Hwang’s research and confirmed concerns that he did not create any patient-specific embryonic stem cells that would have overcome a patient’s immune system rejecting the cells.

SNU is also looking into whether Hwang’s team successfully cloned a human embryo and a dog named Snuppy. Both supposed accomplishments were touted heavily by the international scientific community.

The probe has also found that Hwang’s team violated protocol and engaged in other misconduct in relation to how it obtained eggs for research. The committee said donors were not well-informed about the possible side effects of the medical procedure to stimulate ovulation and collect the eggs.