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Stem Cell Probe Results Due This Week

Posted December. 21, 2005 03:00,   


The results of the investigation into Professor Hwang Woo-suk’s paper in Science magazine may be released within the week. Seoul National University’s (SNU) fact-finding committee plans to announce its interim findings at SNU on the morning of December 22.

The committee will also verify five stem-cells that are being cultured after being thawed in order to find out whether Hwang’s team has the source technology to extract patient-specific stem cell lines.

The committee secured the stem-cells and teratoma tissues Hwang’s team had been keeping and began its verification of the data in earnest on December 20, the third day of investigation.

The committee said on that day that “as Hwang’s team is fully cooperating with the submission of samples for investigation, we have secured the stem-cells that were kept in a freezer, and the teratoma tissues that were used for his paper in Science. DNA fingerprint analysis work will be commissioned to an outside agency within two or three days.”

The committee added, “Stem-cells that were thawed and are being cultured are also being procured, and when they are cultured enough, they could be commissioned for analysis within this week.”

Regarding this, an official of SNU said, “It will be verified whether Professor Hwang wrote his paper based on patient-specific stem cells once the DNA fingerprint of teratoma tissues the committee secured is compared with those belonging to patients’ somatic stem-cells.”

It appears that the committee obtained the record of eggs used from September 17, 2004 to November 8, 2005 to ascertain the genuineness of the suspicions of Roh Sung-il, the head of Mizmedi Hospital, raised on the number of eggs Hwang’s team has used.

Before that, the committee analyzed all kinds of experimental records and computer files on stem-cells and checked with the researchers through individual investigations until 12:00 a.m. of the previous day.

It is known that the committee is considering verifying Hwang’s previous research outcomes, such as his paper in 2004 on Snuppy and a cloned cow, in addition to his 2005 paper.

The National Bioethics Committee has decided to expand the subjects of consideration and deliberate on the bioethics issues of the papers in 2004 and 2005.

In the meantime, it has been confirmed that a prestigious science journal has unprecedentedly rejected the publication of a South Korean stem-cell paper related to animal cloning. The scientific community’s concern is becoming a reality.

Se-Jin Jung mint4a@donga.com weappon@donga.com