by Steven Ertelt
January 9, 2006
Seoul, South Korea (LifeNews.com) — The final report from the Seoul National University panel investigating the fraud problems associated with Hwang Woo-suk’s embryonic stem cell research team is due tomorrow. Meanwhile, Hwang has lost his government funding.
SNU has already released some of the result of its probe, which found that Hwang’s team did not successfully clone patient-specific embryonic stem cells that would overcome rejection issues. The team, has agreed to withdraw a seminal research paper making that claim published in Science last spring.
The SNU investigation is still looking into whether or not Hwang’s team was able to successfully clone human embryos in the first place, which is claimed in a 2004 paper Science published.
The university, where Hwang was a veterinary professor, is also trying to determine whether or not his team was the first to clone a dog.
That SNU found all 11 supposedly cloned embryonic stem cell lines were completely fabricated has been a huge blow to embryonic stem cell research. Scientists worldwide held Hwang’s team in high esteem because it had appeared to overcome a major hurdle preventing the controversial research from curing patients.
Now researchers will go back to the drawing board to determine how they can overcome a patient’s immune system rejecting embryonic stem cell implants.
The use of adult stem cells don’t encounter the same problems and have been effective in curing or treating dozens of diseases and conditions.
Meanwhile, the South Korean government has stripped Hwang of his title as the nation’s top science and revoked the funding that goes along with it.
A committee affiliated with the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), plans to meet on January 11 will make the decision official. Hwang has initially received the right to 3 billion won annually over the next five years.
"The research center was designed based on medical exploits of Hwang. As the veracity of his feats are under serious suspicion, it is practically impossible to go ahead with the plan,’’ an official told the Korean Times.