Comprehensive coverage

A Korean scientist suspected of falsifying stem cell research has resigned

Hwang Woo Suk resigned in light of allegations that he falsified the results of research that claimed to find ways to treat incurable diseases

The South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-seok resigned today from the National University in Seoul where he worked, in light of the claims that he falsified at least 9 out of 11 solutions that he claimed to have developed as part of stem cell research, which he claimed to find ways to treat incurable diseases.

Walla News reported from the news agencies that the South Korean government stripped Hwang of the "leading scientist" title he enjoyed. Deputy Science and Technology Minister Choi Seung-sik said the $39.9 million invested in Hwang's research could not be repaid, but the government would consider ending future funding for his work. The deputy minister added that the government will continue to support this type of research.

Hwang himself apologized for the disappointment and shock he caused the university, but returned and claimed that he had found a way to create stem cells adapted to the patient, as he claimed in the "journal science" in May.

A week earlier, it was announced that the South Korean cloning scientist Hang Woo Seok was suspected of forging human cells in his research. A spokesman for Seoul National University, Korea, announced the opening of an investigation against Hang on suspicion of forgery. Hang's stem cell research has raised hopes for growing colonies of cells that could be used for certain patients, allowing the growth of replacement tissues - something that could help cure Alzheimer's disease or repair spinal cord damage.

At a press conference held yesterday, Hang attacked the critics of his research, and announced that his pioneering technology for cloning stem cells works, and that he would provide proof of this within two weeks. "There is no doubt that we did indeed produce unique stem cells for 11 patients and that we possess the technology to produce them again," said Hang, referring to the technology of producing human cell lines. The 53-year-old veterinarian, who became a national hero last summer after transplanting a dog, has received quite a bit of criticism in the past month for his work.

When asked by reporters whether the 11 cell lines were cloned or simple embryonic stem cells, Hang replied that six lines were infected and destroyed in January, and five lines were frozen.

The frozen rows are now being thawed, and within ten days they will be able to perform DNA tests on them, he said. He added that the laboratory records and microscopic photographs would strengthen his claims that he had cloned the cell lines. "Give us a little time and understanding, and we can prove it," Hang told reporters. He apologized to the Korean people, and admitted that "there were problems of mismanagement and many mistakes were made, and I feel the responsibility placed on me, as the head of the research team."

Yesterday, Hang announced that he had asked the American "Science" publication to publish a retraction notice for the article published on June 17, in which the creation of the 11 cell groups was reported. According to the editor of "Science", Donald Kennedy, Hang admitted that some of the data and photographs published in the article were "problematic".

Dr. Roe, Hang's former colleague and current rival, also called a press conference and fought back. According to him, Hang is nothing more than a "liar" trying to place the blame on the junior researchers who reported to a TV reporter about the fake photos of the 11 cell groups. With tears in his eyes, Rowe continued, saying: "This is a humiliating day for the scientists of our country. Hang is a narrow-minded person who is not ready to admit the 'fabrication' of the data that appeared in his article."

A bad time for science

Last May, an article published in Baytown "Science", one of the most important journals in the world in the field of science, completely changed the discourse on cloning human embryos and extracting their stem cells. In the article, researchers from South Korea reported on their success in finding an effective method of operation. The great hope of researchers and patients to obtain stem cells that would be completely compatible with the patient, seemed closer than ever.

However, this rosy future was clouded by doubts last month, after the publication of the statement of the head of the research team, Dr. Hang Woo Suk, who said that the article contained "fabricated" evidence. Questions were also raised about previous research, and a new discussion was opened.

"This is a tragic turning point," said Lori Zolot of the Center for Bioethics, Science and Society at Northwestern University. According to her, Dr. Hang is innocent as long as his guilt is not proven, but she wondered if "the stem cell research palace was not built on sand."

According to her, the South Korean affair raised the question of whether science is "good". "Good in the sense of real, realistic, moral and worthy of the funding we provide," she explained.

Opponents of human cloning have expressed a similar concern. "If the reports are true, this is a tragedy for science," said Nigel Cameron, president of the Institute for Biotechnology and the Future of Man at the Illinois Institute of Technology.

According to Cameron, the political consequences of the South Korean scandal are enormous. "We were thinking of joining them," he said. Politicians and patients argued that the cures were within reach, if scientists got the right support, and many countries would pour money into stem cell programs.

"Now we can ask, where are the medicines? Why weren't private funds invested in the research? In the eyes of the business community, this research has no value," Cameron concluded.

The stem cell scientist stands behind his research

December 31 2005

Hwang Woo Seok. According to him, the research is correct and he is able to produce embryonic stem cells (Photo: Reuters) The South Korean Hwang Woo Seok claims that colleagues are trying to take credit for the discoveries from him. He has been in isolation since the end of November

Huang Wu-Sek, the South Korean scientist who is suspected of falsifying research results on embryonic stem cells, stands behind his research, and claims that colleagues want to take credit for the discoveries from him.

Last Thursday, South Korea's scientific panel discussed allegations that the results of the scientist Huang's research were falsified. The panel determined that Huang's team, which is considered a pioneer in the field of stem cell research for medical purposes, failed to prove that they produced embryonic stem cells.

The scientist himself, Huang Wu Sek, told the country's Buddhist newspaper that he is concerned about the possibility that other people are trying to diminish his importance in the research, and are trying to steal the technology from him. Huang also added that he has the technology to produce embryonic stem cells, and his ability to prepare embryonic stem cells at any time. His concern is that the technology itself will be taken out of the country.
Advertisement Huang himself has been in isolation at a Buddhist monastery since late November, since his staff has been under investigation. The investigation began with the claim that the team violated the accepted ethical norms in research, since the eggs used in its research were obtained illegally.

His last public appearance was when he resigned as chief scientist, on the day the scientific panel claimed that the data in his studies had been deliberately fabricated, and that Huang was responsible for the fraud.

According to the report in the Buddhist newspaper, Huang told the head of the Buddhist Association, which supports him and his research, that he did not sabotage the research documents, but someone else did. According to him, it is clear that the data has been changed, and all the experts know it. According to him, an investigation will soon be opened to check who changed the data. He also added that he asked the panel to look into this direction of investigation.

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