1/11/2006

Cloning pioneer faked research, faces criminal probe - Yahoo! News

SEOUL (AFP) - South Korean cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-Suk faces a criminal investigation after faking research into stem cells that won him international acclaim and millions of dollars in funding.
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Prosecutors said they would examine the findings of an investigation by scientific experts from Seoul National University which concluded Tuesday that the 52-year-old scientist's research was bogus.

"We will take over relevant evidence from the Seoul National University and decide on who will take up this case," Park Young-Soo, a top member of the prosecutor general's office, told journalists Tuesday.

Hwang stunned medical experts in 2005 when he claimed he had created 11 patient-specific stem cell lines. The previous year he said he had derived stem cells from a human embryo.

Hwang's research papers, both published in the US journal Science, were considered a breakthrough in a new field of bio-medicine.

Stem cells are master cells that have the potential to develop into any organ of the body. Scientists believe they can be used to fight a range of diseases including cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's that are currently hard to treat.

Hwang's claim in 2005 to have produced stem cells specific to individual patients would reduce the risk of rejection of new organs.

But in its final report Tuesday, the panel of experts found no evidence that Hwang had created stem cells of any kind.

"There was no scientific evidence that Hwang had established stem cells," Chung Myung-Hee, head of the panel, told a press conference.

The panel also dismissed Hwang's claim to have pioneered new technology although it said researchers had shown skill in cloning Snuppy, an Afghan hound, which the panel said was a genuine clone.

"They have a significant degree of technology, as you have witnessed in the successful cloning of Snuppy," Chung said.

"However, they have not produced patient-tailored stem cells from cloned embryos. In other words, their technology in this field is just basic."

Snuppy, an Afghan hound, was unveiled by Hwang in August to international fanfare.

Cloning pioneer faked research, faces criminal probe - Yahoo! News

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