Seoul (AsiaNews/KTimes) – South Korea yesterday restarted its stem cell research, embryonic and otherwise. The program had been stalled for more than a year. Science and Technology Minister Kim Woo-sik on Thursday yesterday chaired a government meeting that decided to pump 33 million dollars into stem cell research.
This figure is 20% more than the sum allocated in 2006. The total investment for research will amount to 430 million over the next 10 years, according to Park Jong-koo, vice minister. Park said: “No experiments are planned on embryonic stem cells for now since revisions of the Bioethics Law are still being discussed. However, we are not excluding anything,’’ Park said.
South Korea blocked all types of stem cell research last year when the experiments of the “cloning pioneer” Hwang Woo-suk were found to have been faked.
The vet, who was once a "national hero", fell into disgrace after the international scientific community and the capital's university revealed that results of his research on embryonic stem cells were fabricated in the laboratory to give the impression that he had managed to clone healthy cells from sick people stricken by diseases for which no cure is currently available.
Hwang used to be considered one of the foremost scientists in the world in the genetic field. The results of his research were published in 2004 and 2005 in two issues of the major US scientific journal Science in which the researcher claimed he had created stem cell lines with the cloning of human embryos.
However, Science withdrew both articles after the Seoul National University (SNU) revealed his studies were faked and stem cells had not been created genetically but had come from donor eggs.
Prof. Cho Han-ik of Seoul National University said: “If we have to decide things by a majority vote early next month, cloning research will be supported by nearly all the members.”