12/23/2005, 00.00
SOUTH KOREA
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Stem cell cloning a sham

A commission of inquiry has denounced "evident fabrications" in results of embryonic stem cell research conducted by Prof. Hwang Woo-suk.  

Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A group of South Korean investigators has found that the cloning expert, Hwang Woo-suk, fabricated some of his supposedly revolutionary stem cell research.

"Hwang's 2005 publication does not only contain errors; it has been intentionally fabricated," said the nine-member Commission of Inquiry. "That Hwang should face judgment is inevitable in the light of evident signs of fabrication discovered so far."

The commission said the doctor had manipulated data and photographs related to two stem cell lines to make it seem as though they had been cultivated by his team.

Hwang's group had declared to the world that it had produced 11 lines and its results were published on Science in May 2005. The truth of claims made about the two stem cell lines, now under scrutiny, will be verified through DNA analysis of the nuclear cells, which according to the researchers could lead to the "cure" for diverse pathologies.

Hwang is considered as a hero in his country and his research was financed by the government which has pumped more than 33 million euros into his laboratory so far.

His reputation started to crumble when a co-author of the research, Roh Sung-il, defined the photographs accompanying the text published in scientific journals as "fake".

Some analysts said the results of the inquiry are more than an embarrassment to the nation; they open the door to new criticism of a science long under scrutiny.

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