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Kwon: ‘Hwang Ordered Fake DNA Samples’

Posted February. 01, 2006 03:04,   


Prosecutors investigating disgraced cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-suk’s research fabrication scandal have obtained evidence showing that one of Hwang’s researchers, Kwon Dae-gi (27), tried to cultivate patient-specific somatic cloning stem cells by closely consulting with Kim Seon-jong (34), who was then studying in the U.S., last September through November.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office found the evidence after analyzing e-mails exchanged between Kwon and Kim and seized laptop computers from the two.

Kwon sent e-mails containing that he failed to cultivate patient-specific somatic cloning stem cells to Kim, who had been studying at the University of Pittsburgh, several times last September through November, according to prosecutors. Kim also replied to Kwon’s e-mails by sending e-mails saying he had been concerned about the matter on several occasions.

Prosecutors say that Kwon and Kim belatedly attempted to cultivate stem cells in fear of the news that Hwang’s team had not cultivated a single patient-tailored somatic cloning stem cell might come to light after the MBC investigative program PD Notebook began its probe into the authenticity of Hwang’s research results.

Taking into consideration evidence that Kwon, who belonged to a Seoul National University (SNU)’s Veterinary College team supervised by Hwang, took part in the fabrication, the prosecution thinks that chances are high Hwang also knew there were no patient-specific somatic cloning stem cells before submitting his paper to Science magazine.

Meanwhile, it is being reported that when Kwon was grilled by a SNU panel, he insisted that he tampered with the samples at Hwang’s orders.

According to SNU panel officials yesterday, when Kwon was questioned, he said that he cooked up No.4-11 NT samples under Hwang’s instructions in the process of completing the 2005 paper that reported patient-specific NT.

He also said that at Hwang’s orders, Kwon made cell sediment-like samples by dividing patient somatic cells matching No.4-8 NT and No.10 and 11 NT into two parts, respectively, and trumped them up as if one of the two were a somatic cell sample and another was an actual patient-tailored stem cell.

Because Kwon’s statement indicates that Hwang ordered his researchers to fabricate not only photographs but also samples for DNA tests, it is drawing the public attention.

The SNU panel, however, said that because Kwon’s claims were inconsistent with those of related figures, including Hwang, its final report announced on December 10 last year did not specify these assertions of Kwon’s.