Fake Cloning Scientist Hwang Woo-Suk May Get Embryonic Stem Cell Patent

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 22, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Fake Cloning Scientist Hwang Woo-Suk May Get Embryonic Stem Cell Patent

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 22
, 2008

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Hwang Woo-suk, the embattled scientist who became an international laughingstock when he admitted he faked all of his embryonic stem cell research successes, may get a grant to patent embryonic stem cells from the Australian government.

Australian patent authorities are likely going to extend a grant to Hwang for a cloned human embryonic stem cell.

Hwang heads the Sooam Biotech Research Foundation and it told the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper that “The Australian patent office decided to accept Dr. Hwang’s patent application for the cloned human embryonic stem cell on May 18."

"Over the following three months, the office invited objections to the decision," the foundation said. "It will become clear whether its branch offices have received such objections or not by Tuesday.”

The foundation added, “It’s very rare for a branch office to receive an objection. Thus we expect Australian authorities to soon issue the registration certificate. We have already paid the fees.”

American bioethicist Wesley J. Smith says he is shocked by the news.

"Sometimes I am just amazed," he said. "A few years ago, he created an international media sensation by claiming to have created the first cloned embryos from which he obtained patient specific, tailor made, embryonic stem cells."

"He was lying. An investigation showed he had faked the research," he added.

Smith says he doesn’t know what the Australian government is patenting.

"I guess he can patent the technique–which didn’t work–but there are no cloned stem cells to patent," he said. "Ridiculous."

Smith added: "On the plus side, Hwang’s patent could serve to further impede the development of human cloning, since he might begin demanding payments from anybody who tries. Indeed, that is a major factor that impeded the development of embryonic stem cell research."

The newspaper indicates Australian authorities have already issued a patent number for Hwang’s patent on his embryonic stem cell line and the production of it.

After the patent becomes official, Hwang can collect royalties on the proceeds from the sales of any treatments made using the lines, although embryonic stem cells have never helped human patients and have had multiple problems when used in animals.

Hwang’s team had applied for patents in 11 countries before the scandal erupted showing the embryonic stem cell research and applications are also pending in Canada, India, Russia and China.

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