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Were Hwang’s Stem Cells Tampered With?

Posted January. 19, 2006 03:12,   


Prosecutors investigating disgraced cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-suk’s research said they have reason to believe someone may have intentionally contaminated Hwang’s stem cell lines on January 9 last year.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office reportedly has reason to believe somebody intentionally contaminated Hwang’s stem cell lines after analyzing reports released by a Seoul National University panel, and based on fears that the patient-specific embryonic stem cells could have turned out to be false, thus discrediting Hwang’s research.

The prosecution is also looking into allegations that Hwang’s team attempted to make stem cells through parthenogenesis before August 2004.

According to news reports, prosecution discovered that Hwang is still a firm believer in parthenogenesis from MizMedi Hospital researcher Kim Seon-jong’s e-mails seized by the prosecution.

Kim, who was in charge of cultivating the stem cells for the team’s 2004 paper reportedly sent those e-mails to his fellow researchers around August 20, 2004.

The prosecution has discovered that at the time, MizMedi Hospital tried to create embryonic stem cells internally by using parthenogenesis, and that Hwang’s team conducted the same research as MizMedi Hospital for a considerable period of time.

Regarding this allegation, prosecutors are investigating whether Hwang’s team and MizMedi Hospital pushed ahead with fabricating the 2004 paper even after they knew that the No.1 stem cells in the 2004 paper were created through parthenogenesis.

Prosecutors summoned three SNU researchers and seven researchers from MizMedi Hospital for questioning yesterday.

Tae-Hoon Lee woogija@donga.com jefflee@donga.com