Friday, August 03, 2007

Hwang's first paper in Science demonstrates human parthenogenesis, a twice-told tale?

On May 1, 2006, IPBiz reported that Seoul National University [SNU] experts had concluded that the results of Hwang's FIRST paper in Science arose from parthenogenesis:

SNU in a press release Monday, May 1, 2006, said the re-investigation showed that the cell labeled NT1 was developed by parthenogenesis thorough gene manipulation. It also released the data on its website (

The university said an additional DNA fingerprinting analysis of 96 genes found no signs of paternal traits, which is impossible if a cell is created through somatic cell nuclei transfer. That corroborates the parthenogenesis theory and confirms that no evidence exists that Hwang ever created any stem cells from cloned embryos.

The re-investigation was carried out by Prof. Chung Jae-hoon of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Prof. Lee Jeong-bin of SNU College of Medicine, Prof. Lee Yong-seong of Hanyang University, and Dr. Hahn Yoon-soo of the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Four other SNU professors participated as advisors.

Now, flash forward fifteen months from May 1, 2006 to August 2, 2007, and one has an AP story which reports:

Remember the spectacular South Korean stem cell fraud of a few years ago? A new analysis says the disgraced scientist actually did reach a long-sought scientific goal. It's just not the one he claimed.


The new study suggests Hwang Woo-suk and his team produced stem cells -- not through cloning as they contended -- but through a different process called parthenogenesis.

That, too, is an achievement scientists have long been pursuing.

In 2004, when Hwang and his colleagues at Seoul National University announced they had produced a human embryo through cloning and that they had recovered stem cells from it, the news made headlines around the world.

Two years later their research and a later paper were declared frauds by a committee of his university. The stem cells weren't produced by cloning, the committee said, but it was highly likely that they came about through a much different process called parthenogenesis.

The trick here is that the AP report of "highly likely" refers to an SNU panel report of January 2006 but not to the more detailed study of May 2006 (mentioned above).

Elsewhere in the AP report one has text:

Scientists have long hoped to use parthenogenesis to produce stem cells. Like cloning, parthenogenesis could provide stem cells with a genetic match to a person -- in this case, the woman donating the egg. That in turn could be useful in studying the basic biology of diseases and perhaps in creating tissues for transplant treatments.

The first scientific paper to report stable populations of human stem cells obtained through parthenogenesis appeared only about a month ago.

In a paper published online Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell, an international team of scientists says Hwang and his colleagues actually accomplished the feat in the research behind their discredited 2004 paper.

New genetic analysis of Hwang's stem cells establishes that conclusion with "as close to certainty as you can come in biology," said an author of the new analysis, Dr. George Daley of Children's Hospital Boston and the Harvard Stem Cell Institute.

He and colleagues started by analyzing mouse stem cells generated by cloning or by parthenogenesis. They found that parthenogenesis leaves a distinctive signature in the DNA. That same signature appeared in DNA from Hwang's stem cells, they reported.

It's "unmistakable," Daley said.

Kent Vrana of Pennsylvania State University, who studies the use of parthenogenesis to produce stem cells, agreed that the new paper establishes that Hwang's line came from that process.

"While there has been some controversy about that in the field, this paper, I think, resolves that question," said Vrana, who had no role in Daley's research.

Sort of reminds one of the discussion of the "new" work in Tom Carhart's "Lost Triumph". It's a "new" theory only if one doesn't look too carefully into the past.

****See also


Nicholas Wade wrote in "A grain of truth behind the stem cell fraud of Woo Suk Hwang:"

A team of Boston scientists has now re-examined stocks of Hwang's purported embryonic stem cells and arrived at a surprising conclusion: Hwang did achieve a scientific first, though it was quite different from the one he claimed.

Hwang's cells were the product of parthenogenesis, or virgin birth, meaning that they were derived from an unfertilized egg, a team led by Kitai Kim and George Daley of Childrens Hospital Boston reports in an article published Thursday in the journal Cell Stem Cell.


"It could have been a seminal finding if they hadn't had their blinders on," said Kent Vrana, an expert on parthenogenesis at Penn State University.

IPBiz notes that the parthenogenesis possibility was discussed AT THE TIME of Hwang's first paper AND was pretty much proven by May 2006.


Blogger Lawrence B. Ebert said...

A report in Sept. 2007 indicates that Hwang has been in Thailand for the last two months.


8:22 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home