Wednesday, January 11, 2006

ESCR Mirage Fades under Scrutiny

Digital Chosunilbo (English Edition) has the latest here.

The highlights:
Cloning researcher Hwang Woo-suk and his team used at least 2,061 human eggs from donors in their experiments but were unable to show evidence that they produced a single stem cell from them, a panel investigating the veterinarian’s efforts finds. In its final report released Tuesday, the Seoul National University panel also provided fodder for fresh ethics debate by revealing that Hwang passed out standard consent forms to women researchers on his team to procure their ova.

At a packed press conference in the morning, the panel said both Hwang’s 2004 paper for the U.S. magazine Science on stem cells from cloned embryos and a follow-up article in 2005 on patient-specific stem cells were based on fabricated data. However, DNA tests persuaded the panel that Afghan hound Snuppy is really the world’s first cloned dog.

Chung Myung-hee, the panel chairman, said the experts were able to confirm the use of 2,061 eggs from 129 donors by Hwang's team, hinting there may have been even more. Chung also revealed that the head of MizMedi Hospital Roh Sung-il, a Hwang collaborator who earlier admitted paying women for donations, performed egg extraction operations with researchers from the team present.
Dr. Hwang's surrender to the temptations of fame and success have muted the zeal of ESCR proponents. When the ka-ching! factor of government subsidies combines with the opportunity to promote Absolute Individualism, few Reasonable folk can resist. Dr. Hwang's macheivellian gambit may have ironically awoken many to the ethical troubles of ESCR--and the bold promises of it's patrons.

This may be an opportunity for supporters of ASCR to get a fair hearing. Any takers?