12/29/2005, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Hwang "never produced stem cells"

The investigative committee from Seoul National University has discovered the doctor has no proof to back the authenticity of his alleged discoveries in the field of cloning of cells.

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The group of South Korean experts investigating the research of Prof. Hwang Woo-suk, the "pioneer" of human cloning, said the doctor "never produced patient-specific stem cells" as previously declared.

"We found that Hwang and his team have no scientific data to prove that they had produced stem cells which correspond specifically to a person's DNA," a member of the investigative committee from Seoul University said.  "DNA tests showed these cells don't exist," added Roh Jung-hye, spokesperson for the commission.

Hwang was hailed as a national hero in South Korea until last week, when the same university committee said the article published by his team of scientists in the respected journal Science contained "deliberately fabricated data".

In the article, Hwang had claimed he was able to produce cloned stem cells to measure, using the cells of 11 patients afflicted by conditions for which no cure has yet been found, like Parkinson's Disease, diabetes and spinal injuries. According to the report, the aim was to effectively treat these illnesses by inserting cloned stem cells into patients to recreate healthy tissue.

The group of experts however found correct the research conducted by the South Korean team on five stem cells, which originated from a fertilized egg created by Mizmedi Hospital, an institution which had collaborated with the researcher.

Roh said the investigation still had to analyze many aspects of Hwang's work, including the first cloned embryonic stem cell and Snuppy, an Afghan hound which the professor had presented in August as "the first cloned dog in the world". "We need an elaborate investigation to determine whether this is true or not," Roh said.

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