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Stem Cell Research Conditionally Allowed

Posted April. 30, 2009 08:27,   


The government will allow stem cell research based on somatic cell replication after a three-year ban.

The National Bioethics Committee said yesterday that it conditionally gave the green light to Cha Medical Center for embryonic stem cell research involving somatic cell replication.

While giving the go-ahead to the hospital, the committee attached three conditions: delete references to Parkinson’s disease, strokes, spinal cord injuries and change the title to “A Study for Embryonic Stem Cell Based on Human Somatic Cell Replication”; add to the hospital’s institutional review board a bioethics expert recommended by the Health, Welfare and Family Affairs Ministry and bioethics institutes; and conducting animal experiments in parallel with human studies to reduce the use of human ova.

The first condition is intended to prevent excessive expectations for the research.

The bioethics committee asked the ministry, the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Special Committee on Embryonic Stem Cell Research to devise follow-up monitoring plans for the research.

The committee will report such decisions to the ministry. If the hospital fulfills all the conditions and the ministry approves the research, the three-year ban will be lifted on embryonic stem cell research using the technique somatic-cell nuclear transfer.

The hospital’s research will utilize the same method used by former Seoul National University professor Hwang Woo-suk. Somatic cell replication had been used by Hwang only until the end of 2005, when his research fraud was exposed. Approval for his studies was repealed in March the following year.