Stem Cell Researcher Wants to Make Patient-Specific Stem Cells

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Dec 18, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Stem Cell Researcher Wants to Make Patient-Specific Stem Cells Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
December 18
, 2006

Seoul, South Korea ( — Embryonic stem cell research took a blow this year when a South Korean team falsely claimed it made patient-specific stem cells for use in treatments. Now, another South Korean scientist says he thinks he can create the patient-matched cells, which would be able to overcome rejection issues.

Hwang Woo-suk’s team claimed to have created such cells but the entirety of their research was proven fraudulent.

The ability to clone patient-specific cells is important because, unlike in adult stem cell research, embryonic stem cells have failed to overcome immune system rejection issues when implanted as treatments in animals.

However, Park Se-pill at Cheju National University, tells the Korea Times he can make the cells in six months as soon as research involving human embryos is allowed.

"Technologically speaking, we will be capable of deriving stem cell lines from cloned human embryos in about half a year," Park told the Times.

"We have the goal of launching studies on cloned embryonic stem cells and our new lab will have a team for that purpose," Park, the third scientist to harvest stem cells from human embryos, told the newspaper.

Park said he and his research team have opened a new stem cell research center in Seoul.

After Hwang’s research team faked its embryonic stem cell research, the South Korean government strengthened its regulations on research involving cloned human embryos.

Park’s team, in order to create patient-specific cells, would first have to perfect the process of creating a cloned human embryo — something that pro-life groups object to because it involves the destruction of human life.

Hwang’s team also said it cloned a human embryo but that claim was also proven fraudulent.

As a result of the new rules, Park told the newspaper his colleagues would "start with adult stem cells and frozen embryos rather than cloned embryos."

"In fact, cloning human cells is not our immediate target," Park told the Times but added, "we will prepare to embark on studies on cloned embryos by carrying out experiments with animal cloning."