Friday, December 23, 2005

The scope of fallout from the Hwang fraud?

Paul Elias (AP) wrote on December 23: Scientists fretted Friday that a spectacular cloning fraud that hid in plain sight has set back legitimate stem cell work around the world. Workers in the cloning area feel "public confidence in their work had been weakened by a sham branded by experts as the most visible case of scientific fraud they could recall." Hmm, no one ever talks about Jan-Hendrik Schon anymore. How quickly they forget.

Of the refereeing pass-through and general acceptance since May: Scientists also struggled to explain how they didn't earlier catch the charismatic South Korean veterinarian's claim in a Science paper published in May that he cloned 11 human embryos to produce stem cells. One contemplates the fate of "PD Notebook" of the television network MBC that pushed the early allegations of fraud to the view of the public. Also of refereeing: "That's a difficult one," said Keith Campbell, the University of Nottingham researcher who helped clone Dolly the sheep in 1997. "Scientists are asked to referee a lot of papers and to a certain extent we have to believe each other as to the validity of the data."

The AP story quotes Dr. Robert Lanza: "It's a stain on the honor and integrity of the whole field. It has sent a lot of scientists on a wild goose chase and down false paths." These are exactly the same issues raised after the revelation about Jan-Hendrik Schon. Same old, same old....

An issue in the results is that to create DNA results for the article in Science, Hwang's team split cells from one patient into two test tubes for analysis - rather than actually match cloned cells to a patient's original cells.

Another issue is in the number of eggs used to create the cells: Hwang's article this year in Science was separately viewed as significant for his efficiency in cloning the stem-cell lines, saying just 185 human eggs were used to create custom-made embryonic stem cells for the 11 patients. But Roe Jung-hye said the investigation "found that there have been a lot more eggs used than were reported," although the exact number was being determined.

In light of the findings suggesting fraud, the SNU panel said it now would investigate Hwang's other landmark research, including a 2004 Science article on the world's first cloned human embryos and an August 2005 paper in the journal Nature on the cloned dog Snuppy.

One notes that there are outstanding DNA tests to address other issues in Hwang's research. New DNA test results expected within days will address

--> whether Hwang ever cloned stem cells as he claimed in a landmark research paper (ie, tests on the remaining two cell lines)
--> whether Hwang created the world's first cloned human embryo and
--> whether Hwang created the only cloned dog as he asserted in research that kindled worldwide optimism of revolutionary cures for diseases.

See the December 23 article in Forbes.


Blogger Dram Man said...

FYI, Korea's bio-tech industry is in a tailspin:

A note for your coverage, none of us foreigners living here are suprised by most of the Hwang revelations. Even Hwang's suit against Mizmedi is vintage Korean "not my fault" tactics.

9:41 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home