Korean Stem Cell Scandal Worsens


The investigating committee at Seoul National University has determined that stem cell researcher, Hwang Woo Suk, produced no patient specific stem cell lines. This means that the entire paper in Science claiming that Hwang's lab had created 11 patient specific stem cell lines was faked. Now doubts are being raised about Hwang's other research including his claim to have created the first cloned human embryonic stem cell line in 2004.

Besides giving a black eye to stem cell research, Hwang's fakery has dashed the hopes of thousands of patients worldwide. In an editorial, the Korean newspaper, The Chosun Ilbo, captures the heartbreak felt by patients who believed in Hwang's research:

Intriguing though the mystery may be, the frustration of patients who pinned their hopes on a stem cell cure must be unbearable. A 12-year-old boy suffering from spinal paralysis who offered his cells to Hwang's team is said to have asked his father Kim Je-eon, "Will I never be able to stand up again?" Our country has 100,000 diabetic children and 130,000 spinal paralysis patients. It was they and their families who spread azaleas in front of Prof. Hwang's laboratory when it seemed he was the victim of a slanderous campaign, pleading with him to come back and continue the work that had galvanized their hopes.

Again, shame on you Hwang Woo Suk!