Korean Stem Cell Study Questioned

Seoul National University Agrees to Investigate

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD on December 15, 2005
From the WebMD Archives

Dec. 15, 2005 -- Controversy about Korean research on stem cells is prompting a university investigation.

Korea's Seoul National University has pledged to investigate research done by Woo Suk Hwang, DVM, PhD, and colleagues. That's according to Science's web site. Science published the study in question in its June print edition.

The studystudy claimed to have succeeded at creating stem cells that match a patient's genetic material.

Now, Korean news stations have aired allegations by one of Hwang's Korean co-authors that several stem cell lines used in the study were faked. Reports of those allegations are noted on the web site of another scientific journal, Nature.

Hwang has not yet responded to the questions about his stem cell work. He had been hospitalized for several days due to stress, according to news reports in Science and the Associated Press.

Hwang, who has been considered a pioneer in cloning research, has lately been under fire for other ethical breaches. On Nov. 24, he resigned his official posts over allegations that his team used eggs from some junior members of his research team in their work.

Science's web site notes that one of the co-authors on the stem cell study, Gerald Schatten, PhD, of the University of Pittsburgh, has asked Science to remove his name from the paper. Schatten had helped analyze data but didn't work on the stem cell experiment itself.

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SOURCES: ScienceMag.com. Nature web site. Associated Press. WebMD Medical News: "Tailoring Stem Cells to Fit the Person."
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