04/11/2006, 00.00
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Medical research progresses despite Hwang's downfall

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young

The trial of the "cloning pioneer" appeared to have blocked the ascent of the rising star of South Korean medical research. However the country can still boast about an army of young committed researchers in the field of cancer research.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Although the scandalous downfall of the "cloning pioneer", Hwang Woo-suk, was a grievous blow, South Korean medical research presses ahead. Korean researchers have achieved outstanding results from detecting cancerous cells in their early stages to understanding the malignant cells and treating them.

Prof. Lee Sang-yup, of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, found a substance, named NeoNovo that can easily detect the existence of cancerous cells, thereby kindling expectations of availability of efficient cancer diagnostic tools.

Prof. Park Chang-sik, of Chungnam National University, has cloned four female piglets that secrete a protein very effective for treatment of leukemia sufferers. The protein, dubbed GM-CSF, sells for about 0,000 per gram when produced synthetically, but the price would fall once the pigs produce it en masse in the future.

Shin Deug-yong, a professor at Dankook University, has discovered a substance that prompts cancer cells to "kill themselves". This is expected to pave the way for revolutionary anti-cancer therapies, because according to laboratory results, the side effects on the body of this induced "suicide" are minimal.

Aside from these scientists, a swarm of young South Korean researchers are delving into ways to conquer cancer, the "enemy number 1" of global medicine.

Prof. Kim Sung-hoon, of the Seoul National University, said: "If cancer were to be defeated, this would be due, in no small part, to Korean research."

However, the road ahead to attain this goal "remains long". The researcher, who discovered AIMP3 genes in 2005, capable of preventing the formation of tumors, added: "First of all, we must understand that cancer cannot be surmounted with a handful of breakthroughs, but through constant and coordinated research."

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See also
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"Cloning pioneer" want to manipulate human cells again
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