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Panel Releases Final Report on Hwang

Posted January. 11, 2006 03:04,   


The Seoul National University (SNU) panel investigating the work of Professor Hwang Woo-suk has concluded that his claim to have cloned human embryonic stem cells was false. But the panel did accept that his team had made animal cloning advances.

Cheong Myung-hee, the head of the SNU panel, said at a press conference on January 10 “data for the 2004 paper published in Science was also fabricated, like the data for the 2005 paper. We have not found any proof that cloned embryonic stem cells were ever created."

The panel said in its final report that “the 2004 paper included manipulated images and data similar to the 2005 paper. We concluded that the cloned embryonic stem cells Hwang claimed to have produced in the 2004 paper were not developed by somatic cell nuclear transfer, but by parthenogenesis.” Parthenogenesis means reproduction from an ovum without fertilization.

However, the panel has confirmed as a result of DNA fingerprinting analysis that Snuppy, the cloned dog, was actually cloned.

SNU investigators also discovered that 2,061 ova extracted from 129 women at four hospitals were supplied to Hwang’s team from November 2002 to last November.

They admitted that Hwang and his team have the technology to transfer nuclei and develop blastocysts. But they noted that these technologies are already in use, meaning that Hwang’s technologies are neither creative nor unrivalled.

The investigation panel also said that they have not found cloned stem cells created by nuclear transfer or any scientific proof to show that they ever existed. It concluded that Hwang’s team does not have the technology to produce cloned embryonic stem cells right now.

Cheong, the head of the panel, emphasized, “Hwang and his team’s fabrication of papers deceived the scientific community and the public,” hinting at a possibility that a heavy punishment might be imposed on those involved in the scandal.

Meanwhile, Seoul National University will make a public apology and announce measures to prevent similar cases.

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