Hwang Woo-suk, the South Korean stem cell scientist who took the world by storm by claiming to have cloned a human embryo, faked his reports that were published in the journal Science, his colleague Roh Sung-il has alleged.
Roh says that the stem cell lines used in the research paper analysis were taken from his stem cell lines since the original ones cloned by Hwang were destroyed by a virus. "Without any cloned stem cells, he presented stem cells taken from my hospital. Nine of the eleven stem cell lines he had said he created didn't even exist," Roh told the South Korean daily Hankyoreh. Roh, who works as an administrator of the MizMedi Hospital in Seoul was a part of the team that made the sensational announcement in June that they had managed to clone stem cells bearing an exact match with patients' DNA. This could have proved to be the answer to cancer and other deadly diseases like AIDS.
Subsequently, Hwang was hailed as a stem cell guru and was felicitated around the world. The stem cell story got cloudy last month when Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh resigned from the research team on ethical grounds. It emerged that the eggs for research were donated by junior female researchers from Hwang's own team. This is expressly forbidden in medical research. Subsequently, Hwang himself resigned as the director of the stem cell institute.
These fresh allegations are now being denied by him. He is claiming that the research is true, but was subject to 'human errors.' He said at a news briefing that he was sorry to have caused such a huge problem for everyone concerned. 'The fact remains that our research team was successful in creating stem cells from patients' skin cells.' Science has reserved comment on the whole issue and has said that it does not want to act hastily. Hwang says that he will talk to all the 24 co-authors of the paper before deciding to seek a retraction of the paper from Science.