Sunday, April 08, 2007

LA Times on Cha

Of the Cha matter, Engel wrote in the LA Times:

The CHA Regenerative Medicine Institute in L.A. applied for the grant to try to develop a line of human embryonic stem cells that could be used to study Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, a fatal motor neuron disease long known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The article then goes into matters with the grant approval and with Cha, and returns to the substance of the proposed Cha research at the end:

The type of research proposed by the CHA Regenerative Medicine Institute in its grant application — somatic cell nuclear transfer [SCNT], or therapeutic cloning — requires unfertilized eggs.

In this process, the genetic material is removed from the eggs and is replaced by the genetic material from a patient's cell. Then the egg must be coaxed into dividing as if it had been fertilized. The reconstructed egg is then allowed to develop to the embryo stage. Stem cell lines derived from it are genetically identical to the patient's. The CHA proposal would use a patient with Lou Gehrig's disease as a donor, thus creating a line of stem cells with the disease that could be used to study it and test treatments.

Unmentioned in the LA Times article:

#1. SCNT is the process claimed by Hwang Woo Suk, but which was NOT actually done by Hwang Woo Suk.

#2. In the time since the Hwang fraud was uncovered, NO LAB IN THE WORLD has used SCNT to create a human stem cell line.

The bulk of the March 26 article concerned issues with Cha, including the allegations of plagiarism:

Cha has been involved in a tempestuous academic dispute over who wrote a 2005 article that appeared in the U.S. medical journal Fertility and Sterility. The Times reported in February that another scientist, Dr. Jeong-Hwan Kim, said the article was a virtual reproduction of his doctoral thesis, previously published in South Korea. But the U.S. journal article lists Cha as first author; Kim is not listed.

The status of Kim's employment is given as a "junior researcher" in a lab attached to Cha's hospital in South Korea. It may be that Kim was employed as a clinician in the hospital itself.

See also Further fulminations in CIRM's Cha-Gate


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