Marlowe's Shade

Friday, December 02, 2005

More Trouble Yet for South Korean Cloning Doc

The media in that country has treated Dr. Woo-Suk Hwang like a rock star, but in addition to earlier reports of ethical violations, a South Korean TV station has hinted that his research itself may be tainted.

Researchers with South Korea's cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-Suk rejected reports suggesting that some of his landmark research may have been faked. A South Korean TV station confirmed it was working on a report that would challenge whether Hwang's work was genuine.

Last week MBC TV network reported that Hwang had used human eggs for his cloning experiments from members of his research team and that others eggs used in his research had been paid for.

Hwang had previously denied the allegations but admitted the truth two days after the program was aired.

Now, the channel's investigative reporting program, PD Notebook, is preparing to raise more serious allegations.

"As it has been widely reported, we are pursuing a new report focusing on the validity of Professor Hwang's study (on the cloned embryonic stem cells)," an MBC official working on the program told AFP.

Top executives of MBC, one of South Korea's three major TV networks, met with the program's staff to "review" the information collected by the team concerning the authenticity of Hwang's work, he said.

"They have reached a conclusion that we have to take a very cautious approach to a new report on Hwang. Nothing has been decided as to whether we have to go ahead with it or not," he said.

The report last week on the origin of human eggs used by Hwang sparked international controversy over the groundbreaking team's ethical standards.

It also triggered a groundswell of patriotic support for Hwang and anger at MBC for hurting Hwang and damaging the country's international image.

Hwang admitted to ethical breaches and disappeared from public view after offering to resign from all his official positions.

Hwang's team has said in its study published in May in the science periodical, Science, that it had produced patient-specific stem cells from cloned human embryos.

There has been a lot of public support for Dr. Hwang, and outcry against the media's exposure of his foibles in South Korea, so it sounds like the station may quash the report. It is by no means confirmed, but hopefully the investigation will continue. I wouldn't bet on the South Korean government getting involved however.

Wesley Smith posted on this and has some great commentary.
papijoe 7:07 AM