South Korea Govt Expands Probe Into Embryonic Stem Cell Research Fraud

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 1, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Korea Govt Expands Probe Into Embryonic Stem Cell Research Fraud Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 1, 2006

Seoul, South Korea ( — The South Korean government has expanded its probe into the faked embryonic stem cell research conducted by Hwang Woo-suk’s research team. They are also planning to investigate whether the scientists illegally purchased human eggs for their experiments.

The prosecutors are already looking into whether Hwang’s team misused state funds for their research. Hwang is also accused of using some of the money to try to bribe one of his colleagues into not talking to the media about the false claims the team made.

"We will focus on the team’s acquisition of ova after the life science ethics law took effect in 2005," the prosecution source told Reuters.

Prosecutors are also looking at DNA from mice in Hwang’s labs to determine whether Hwang’s claims are true that other scientists sabotaged his work.

Hwang’s team first got into trouble in November when news surfaced showing two female members of his team donated their eggs for research, a breach of ethical protocol. Hwang had covered up the donations but finally admitted them.

Then Hwang’s colleagues began to report that claims of cloning human embryos and patient-specific embryonic stem cells were false.

Two papers published with those claims have been thrown out by the medical journal Science and a probe by Seoul National University, where Hwang’s teem was based, found the claims to be entirely fabricated.

Hwang had provided hope to advocates of embryonic stem cell research because one of the key problems with the research is its inability to overcome a patient’s immune system rejecting the embryonic stem cells.

Now that problem continues while adult stem cell research advances at a quick pace with dozens of cures and treatments having been achieved.

Hwang’s team received $43.41 million in funds from the South Korean government from 1995 to 2005 and Hwang himself was questioned on Friday by government auditors.