Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Conflict about issues in Hwang's 2004 paper

Although Hwang's 2005 paper (asserting patient specific embryonic stem cell lines through SCNT) is false, there is conflict on what is true, and is not true, in the 2004 paper.

From the Korea Times: Korea's top experts on unisexual reproductions claim the country's disgraced scientist Hwang Woo-suk indeed created cloned human embryonic stem cells.

Prof. Seo Jeong-sun at Seoul National University (SNU), arguably the country's most authoritative expert at the unisexual reproduction, Wednesday made the claims after checking tests by Hwang's men.

I think the issue may be that Hwang did create a cloned blastocyst through SCNT, but did not generate a embryonic cell line from the blastocyst. In any event, there is disagreement about the scope of the fraud in the 2004 paper in Science, and, correlatively, over the scope of what actually has been accomplished in embryonic stem cell research. Recall that the Newcastle group has also claimed to have performed cloning, but not to have created a cell line.

The Korea Times also says:

"The analysis, which I believe is legitimate, says the No. 1 cell line has imprinted genes that came from both its father (somatic cell) and mother (egg). That means that the cells cannot be created as a result of parthenogenesis," Seo said.

"Then, the cells should be cloned ones. The discrepancy of eight markers appear to be triggered by severe impairment or genetic alteration at a process of nurturing them," he added.

As far as parthenogenesis is concerned, Seo is one of the global leading biologists. Alongside Japanese associates, he produced a pair of mice in 2004 by combining two eggs, breaking a deep-seated belief that mammals cannot be born with only maternal genes.


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