Two scientists who closely worked with disgraced cloning expert Hwang Woo-suk on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2005 suggested Hwang has in fact made considerable advances in cloning somatic cells and stem cell technology, lending support to Hwang's insistence that source technology for cloning patient-specific stem cells exists. Dr. Kim Min-kyu, a Seoul National University veterinarian who was on the team that created what may be the world's first dog cloned from adult somatic cells, said both cloning of the dog and of embryos required the same technique substituting the nucleus of an egg with that of a somatic cell. Kim also said embryonic stem cells from dogs have survived in the lab for 60 weeks.
An issue with Snuppy is that, while the nuclear DNA fingerprint comparison between Snuppy and the genetic parent was reported, the mitochondrial DNA fingerprint (which would be different between Snuppy and the genetic parent, but the same as to the embryo donor) was not reported. This omission, which did not concern the referees of Nature, would not rule out that Snuppy was a twin, not a clone.
The article also mentioned:
The panel said it will answer whether Hwang's stem cells genetically match patients' somatic cells, and how a sum of US$50,000 that has been subject to speculation was used. It will also brief reporters on progress of its investigation into the veracity of a 2004 article by Hwang on cloning somatic cells and of the cloning of the dog Snuppy. It will also clarify why it postponed the announcement of its final report until next month.
One hitch in the investigation was that the panel commissioned additional DNA testing on Snuppy. It first entrusted the test to a human DNA testing institute, but differences in technique made it advisable to send the dog's blood samples to one specializing in animals, it said.
Meanwhile, Yoon on Wednesday, Dec. 28, also dismissed rumors that Kim Seon-jong, a former Hwang team member now working at the University of Pittsburgh, attempted suicide after telling TV reporters he fabricated research results at Hwang's behest. Yoon confirmed reports that he gave Kim $20,000 during a recent visit to the U.S. but denied the money was intended as a sweetener. Rather, it was a contribution to Kim's hospital expenses after he was admitted for stress, Yoon said. He also confirmed that core team member Prof. Ahn Cu-rie of SNU gave Kim another $10,000. Meanwhile, customs caught Kim with the money when he recently returned to Korea. By law, sums over $10,000 brought into the country must be declared.
Hmmm, doesn't the University of Pittsburgh give medical coverage to its staff, such as Kim Seon-jong? Or is this like the old days of San Filippo and Rutgers University?