Sunday, June 11, 2006

Further discussion of planned US research work in human SCNT

Amidst the discussion of renewed US efforts in human SCNT, there has been a perception that the decision by UCSF is recent; actually, Terri Somers reported the UCSF decision in January 2006.

The STNews site quotes Nicholas Wade of the New York Times:

Harvard announced its plans yesterday at a news conference; the University of California, San Francisco, did so less conspicuously a month ago [eg, May 2006, but IPBiz notes the announcement was earlier], resuming a program abandoned in 2001. Both universities, having received required approvals, will at first obtain the human eggs needed for cloning from fertility clinics, starting with eggs deemed too low quality to produce a successful pregnancy. Both programs are privately financed because federal support for human stem cell research is available only for cell lines made before August 9, 2001.

Advanced Cell Technology in Worcester, Mass., also has a human nuclear transfer program "well under way," said Robert Lanza, the company's vice president, but has run into problems in recruiting egg donors. Under guidelines issued by the National Academy of Sciences, which are voluntary but widely observed, donors may not be paid anything beyond expenses.

The new efforts, if successful, would accomplish what the disgraced South Korean scientist Woo-Suk Hwang claimed he had achieved in articles published in Science in 2004 and 2005. Both papers turned out to be based on forged data. But the flaws remained undetected by scientists involved in the cloning field, raising doubts about the rigor and expertise with which the new field was being conducted. The problems came to light not through criticism by scientific peers, but only after a whistle-blower in Dr. Hwang's lab contacted a Seoul television station [IPBiz: MBC-TV; PD Notebook].

IPBiz notes that the UCSF program would reproduce ONLY Hwang's embryonic stem cell work reported in Science in 2004, and not the work reported in Science in 2005.


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