University Says All of Hwang’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Faked

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

University Says All of Hwang’s Embryonic Stem Cell Research Faked Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 9, 2006

Seoul, South Korea ( — The final report from the Seoul National University panel investigating the fraud problems associated with Hwang Woo-suk’s embryonic stem cell research team has found that all of the embryonic stem cell research it conducted was fabricated.

The SNU investigation found that Hwang’s team was not able to successfully clone human embryos, which is claimed in a 2004 paper Science published.

SNU had 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.

In its final report, the SNU team reasserted its conclusion in that matter, saying Hwang’s team never cloned human embryos and never cloned patient-specific embryonic stem cells.

"Hwang’s team did not have the data for the stem cell lines in the 2004 paper, but fabricated it," Chung Myung-hee, the head of the panel, said.

"We concluded that Professor Hwang’s team did not have patient-specific stem cell lines and did not have any scientific basis that the team made them," Chung explained.

The team "did not have any proof to show that cloned embryonic stem cells were ever created," Chung added.

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.

University president Chung Un-chan is to announce his position in a press conference on Wednesday, the day after the panel releases its final report. Chung is expected to apologize for the scandal and promise to put mechanisms in place that will prevent any repeat of the debacle.