One of the year’s biggest stories in bioscience appears to have been make-believe. In May, scientists in South Korea announced they’d been able to clone eleven embryonic stem cell lines containing the DNA of patients who suffered from diseases such as Parkinson’s, diabetes, and spinal cord injury. The hope was that the cloned stem cells could be used therapeutically via transplantation without fear of rejection.
Now Dr. Woo Suk Hwang has admitted to fabricating the results. Nine of the 11 colonies of stem cells featured in the study published in the journal Science apparently don’t exist and the other two may not have been real either. The researchers involved have asked Science to retract their paper.
“Professor Hwang admitted to fabrication,” Dr Sung Il Roh, a senior colleague at Dr. Hwang’s laboratory in Seoul, South Korea, told MBC, a Korean television station. “Hwang said there were no cloned embryonic stem cells at all and he did not know that.”
My heart sank when I learned of this development. I can’t imagine how devastated hopeful patients must be.
Times Online, December 16, 2005