Hwang Cloned Human Embryos But Not Patient-Tailored Stem Cells  
12/27/2005 11:21:23 AM

Disgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk and his team apparently achieved a world first by cloning human embryos even though parts of his later research data were faked, news reports say. It remains unclear, however, whether Hwang's team went on to produce patient-specific stem cells as claimed, Yonhap news agency and YTN TV said, quoting an unidentified official with Hwang's Seoul National University. In order to verify Hwang's apparently landmark 2005 paper published in the US journal Science, investigators from the university thawed and analyzed five samples of cells which were purportedly capable of developing into patient-specific stem cells. However, the cells were frozen at too early a stage in their development to reach any conclusion, the reports said. Stem cells are the body's master cells which experts believe can grow into any organ and thus someday can be used to help fight cancer and other diseases such as Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and diabetes. Patient-specific cells would reduce the risk of rejection. A university spokesman declined to comment on any new findings by its investigation, pending a final announcement expected sometime next month. The investigators reportedly found the DNA of the five cell samples matches those of patients, which means that those cell lines were indeed obtained from cloned human embryos.