South Korea Govt: Hwang Researchers Never Cloned Embryonic Stem Cells

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 16, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

South Korea Govt: Hwang Researchers Never Cloned Embryonic Stem Cells Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 16, 2006

Seoul, South Korea ( — Government prosecutors investigating the faked embryonic stem cell research supposedly conducted by Hwang Woo-suk and his colleagues have confirmed that his team never created patient-specific embryonic stem cells that would supposedly overcome rejection issues.

Park Han-cheol of Seoul District Prosecutors’ Office, who is leading the Hwang probe, told the Korean Herald newspaper, "there is no possibility that NT-1 is a cloned somatic stem cell."

"There is no doubt about this in the scientific field," he added.

The NT-1 cell formed the basis of the cloning claims in the 2004 paper Hwang’s team published in the medical journal science that has been revoked. Hwang and his associates also claimed to have cloned a human embryo and a paper on that topic has been withdrawn as well.

According to the Herald, DNA analysis on NT-1 showed that eight of the 48 markers did not match the donor DNA from the ova, showing the cell could not be an identical cloned copy.

Park said the question is open to whether the scientists created the cell from a processes known as parthenogenesis, which may have given the researchers the false notion it had been cloned.

"Whether or not NT-1 was formed by parthenogenesis is for the scientists to confirm," Park told the Herald.

The prosecution is investigating why the DNA analysis of NT-1 matches a donor who donated her human eggs for a different stem cell line. Park said he believes it points to the switching of the stem cells before publishing the paper in Science, in an attempt to cover up the cloning failure. He said the DNA analysis could have also just been fabricated.

The South Korean government’s findings back up an investigation conducted by Seoul National University medical researchers who determined Hwang’s team never cloned a human embryo or patient-specific embryonic stem cells.