Monday, March 06, 2006

Hwang admits some of the fraud, but says 2004 paper genuine

Hwang, under questioning for a fifth day by prosecutors, admitted telling a researcher working for him to fake key research that won him international acclaim in 2005, Yonhap news agency said Monday.

"Hwang was admitting that he directed Kwon Dae-kee, a senior researcher at his laboratory, to manipulate samples for DNA testing of stem cell lines numbers 4-11 in connection with Hwang's 2005 paper," the agency quoted an unidentified prosecution official as saying.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the report.

Hwang, 52, claimed in the landmark paper last year that he had created 11 patient-specific stem cells through cloning. But a panel of experts concluded last month that the claims were bogus.

The panel at Seoul National University also concluded that a 2004 paper by Hwang, in which he claimed to have produced a stem cell from a cloned human embryo, was also fabricated.

According to prosecutors, Hwang still insists that the data for the 2004 paper is genuine.

Prosecutors called Hwang for questioning on Thursday concerning his alleged misuse of millions of dollars in funds. They say the professor made donations to politicians and failed to account for 6.2 billion won (6.4 million dollars) in research funding.

Stem cells are master cells that have the potential to develop into any organ of the body. Scientists believe they could be used to fight a range of illnesses including cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer's disease.


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