Sunday, March 18, 2007

Korea's CHA RMI gets stem cell grant from California's CIRM

A March 17 post on californiastemcellreport notes that one of the recent CIRM grants goes to the benefit of Korean researchers (quoting from Rob Waters): CHA RMI was awarded a grant of $2.6 million. Along with its sister organization, CHA Stem Cell Institute in Seoul, it's a non-profit unit of CHA Biotech(of Seoul). The Los Angeles unit proposes to use its grant to create stem cell lines using a process known as therapeutic cloning, or somatic cell nuclear transfer.

The text also notes: CHA Biotech is a for-profit entity set up to coordinate the work of academic researchers and hospital physicians centered on stem cell, gene therapy and regenerative medicine technology, according to its Web site. It's part of CHA Health Systems, also called the CHA Medical Group, which owns or is affiliated with several universities, hospitals and research institutes in Korea and the U.S.

There is discussion of an individual: We feel a great responsibility for this project and we will pursue our research with utmost efforts,' Chung Hyung Min, a professor and the director of the project at CHA Stem Cell Institute, said in a telephone interview from Seoul. "It won't be an easy project, but we're striving so that our efforts can contribute to curing Lou Gehrig's disease and many other diseases such as Parkinson's disease.

IPBiz notes that Chung Hyung Min was quoted during the Hwang Woo Suk scandal (from a Reuters report of Dec. 30, 2005):

Chung Hyung-min, director of the Stem Cell Therapy Research Institute at Pochon CHA University said researchers, including him, were kept in the dark about the work of Hwang's team.

"He had clearly made the government understand that security was essential to prevent any leak of information on his research," Chung said by telephone.

Chung said that, in the highly competitive field of stem-cell science, it may be difficult for South Korean scientists to regain their reputation.

IPBiz notes Chung was quoted in the International Herald Tribune on Dec. 30, 2005:

"It's an international fraud," said Chung Hyung Min, director of the Stem Cell Therapy Research Institute at Pochon CHA University. "Dr. Hwang will be gone, but we, the rest of South Korean stem cell researchers, wonder how we will ever recover our credibility, which collectively fell to the bottom."

[look here and here

A report in USAToday on January 2, 2006 includes some of the above-noted Chung quotes and gives text of current relevance:

The hysteria, the financial implications and the huge funding from governments to spur major medical discoveries, be it stem cells or new drugs, is transforming the entire research field, according to Barbara Koenig, a medical anthropologist and bioethicist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

"The bigger message is: 'Boy, is there a lot of danger in these big science projects that promise the world.'

"Not that any one in particular will not pan out, but more just that as scientific projects become more and more like the latest launch of the new Coke or a Microsoft project, they're subject to the same kind of forces," Koenig says.

It's not clear whether or not Chung Hyung-min is a corporate officer of Biotechnology CHA Biotech, along with Cha, Kwang-Yul and Choi, Yang- Oh. [look here.] Separately, view Author and spouse/partner disclosures index. , Volume 84, Pages S498-S527
here .

In the past, Chung has worked in the area of human fertility / IVF :

A local medical team claimed yesterday that it has succeeded in delivering a baby after conceiving it using a newly developed test-tube technology called "Oocyte vitrification" for the first time in the world.

Oocyte vitrification refers to a method of freezing ova very quickly and maintaining them in a gelled state, thereby minimizing damage to the cells.

Medical experts predicted that the new technology would greatly contribute to the treatment of infertile women in the future without raising concerns about ethical debates.

The achievement was made by the research team led by Dr. Chung Hyung-min and Dr. Yoon Tae-ki at the Infertility Medical Center of CHA General Hospital in southern Seoul.

Dr. Chung explained that his team has succeeded in impregnating eight infertile patients since last November, using the Oocyte vitrification method. The first of them to give birth, a 30-year-old woman identified only by her surname Kim, bore a healthy baby boy weighting 2.9kg Saturday.

Chung is also quoted in an October 2006 piece on "Asia's Great Science Experiment."

**Separately, in the area of freezing, recall a previous post on IPBiz:

which notes: Dr. Se-Pill is co-inventor of U.S. 6,921,632, issued July 26, 2005, and titled Human embryonic stem cells derived from frozen-thawed embryo.


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