Friday, November 25, 2005

A Korean Liar

RhoSungil, the president of Med hospital, owns 40% stake of all Hwang's discoveries. 60% is owned by SNU.
Dr.Hwang knew where Rho was getting his "eggs" and he thought that was none of his business.
Then, his assistants gave their eggs. He knew this was wrong but one of the donors asked him to keep quite because she was not married. So, he lied when he was asked about it.
Lying. And, covering up someone else's illegal activity that directly affects his scientific quests. Is he a trustworthy person?
Hwang is a known liar from now on to the rest of the world. Only Koreans are going to protect his reputation, but for how long?
Since he is now a certified liar, will his works,which have never been duplicated anywhere else, be trusted? The Journal Science should drop Hwang's articles. Anything written by him is unreliable!
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Personally, I do not believe Wilmut's Dolly was a clone. He had tried to clone a sheep for over twenty years. He finally lied when his funding was about to be cut.
Getting nuclear DNA's from a fully grown and fully differentiated cells and having it "start from the very beginning" in an ovum, is in my opinion a fiction.
Schatten, himself, originally published an article that for sophisticated organisms like monkeys and men this was not possible. Then, he recanted when Hwang allegedly cloned a human(human ovum with full set of DNA start diving. What else you call it?).
If you assume that Hwang was lying, then Schatten was right the first time. When I read his article, it included some mathematical and highly evolutionary proofs that sound plausible. Maybe, he was right all along. I think so.
I wrote more about this subject including telemere and Mitochondrial DNA. If you are interested and have some knowledge about biology, visit my blog,
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If Hwang's cloning method was a lie and he used a sperm instead of a nucleus of a cell, he committed murders. Murders of humans. He is basically a Nazi.
Somebody should verify his methods and results but nobody can. His methods are "proprietary" and his results are verified by other Koreans. Koreans who are on Hwang's team.
A perfect crime?
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You are truly misled. Hwang has promised the whole world to Koreans. What is bending a rule here and there as long as he brings these wonderful cure, you ask.
Here are some of possiblities of what is going on right now.1)Hwangs explaination: He got nucleus from a somatic(fully differentiated)skin cell and inserted it into an ovum and it started to grow. Is it a copy of skin cell? He says no. It is much more than that. He says it is a stem cell that can grow into anything you want. Is it a human baby? No, he says. It is not human. Then, what is it? He says a stem cell. What is the difference between this "stem" cell and a baby? He says none. This cell can grow into a human being if inserted into a womb.
2) My take: i)If it is not a whole human, then it cannot grow into the useful body parts. A skin cell can only be a skin cell as it has differentiated. Dr. Hwang claims he can change it into something else. He is working on it, but nothing has worked out. Meanwhile, he is telling everyone that this will be done. It is dangerous for a scientist to promise something that he may or may not be able to deliver.
ii) What if it is what Dr.Hwang says it is? A human seed. A cloned human. Aren't we killing the man? Is it OK to use human subject in developing drugs? Koreans are taught from early on that it is quite OK to kill in advancing science. And, Kimbob, you are too. A human being killed! It is a murder! For a Buddhist like Hwang may think it to be OK, but not for me. I believe that thing in Dr.Hwang's test tube may have a soul. It may be God's creature. And, I will not allow Dr.Hwang to kill him. Not even to make use of him to develop these wonderful drugs and therapies. I morally object to it, since I believe that Dr.Hwang may have sneaked in a sperm to form his "stem" cell(then it is truly a murder).

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Korean stem-cell crisis deepens
Further claims surface that junior researchers donated eggs.

The pressure on stem-cell pioneer Woo Suk Hwang over the way he obtained human eggs for his research is intensifying - particularly in South Korea, where he had been a national hero. In the past week, several new claims have emerged that Hwang may have used eggs that were paid for, as well as eggs from junior members of his laboratory.Hwang's team, based at Seoul National University, has produced a string of landmark papers in stem-cell research, including the first stem cells obtained from a cloned human embryo (W. S. Hwang et al. Science 303, 1669-1674; 2004) and the first patient-matched embryonic stem cells (W. S. Hwang et al. Science 308, 1777-1783; 2005).Recently, his research has been overshadowed by allegations about the way he obtained eggs, but until now these have come from outside his home country.

In 2004, Nature published a claim that Hwang's group had used eggs from one of his graduate students - a charge Hwang has constantly denied. The student later withdrew her claim. Then two weeks ago, Hwang's close friend and collaborator Gerald Schatten of the University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, broke off ties. He accused Hwang of possible ethical irregularities and misrepresentations regarding egg donation, although he gave no other details.Now further claims of possible impropriety are arising closer to home. On 21 November, Sun Il Roh, a fertility expert at MizMedi Hospital in Seoul, gave a press conference at which he admitted that 20 eggs that he had procured and given to Hwang for his 2004 study were paid for. According to Korean newspaper reports, Roh said he paid 1.5 million won (US$1,430) of his own money to each of the 20 women whose eggs were used in the experiment. Quoted in the JoongAng Daily, he says: "This is not a large amount of money, considering that they had to receive injections every day for 8-10 days." But Roh, who was a co-author on Hwang's 2005 paper, insists that Hwang did not know the status of the eggs he received. Roh did not respond to Nature's requests for an interview.Although buying eggs for research was not illegal when the eggs were procured in 2003, the practice is hugely controversial, and has been illegal in Korea since last January. Supplementary material to Hwang's 2004 paper clearly states that all egg donors were volunteers.

On 22 November, as Nature went to press, Seoul-based Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) was to run an investigative programme that it said would show further evidence that Hwang used eggs from junior members of his lab. Obtaining eggs from a graduate student is problematic because of the risk that personal pressure could be applied.According to an MBC producer, the programme was to produce medical records of egg donors from MizMedi Hospital. The records allegedly show that at least one of the donors was a researcher in Hwang's lab. MBC says the researcher in question is not the student who last year told Nature she had donated eggs at MizMedi, before withdrawing the claim.Furthermore, an informer, who MBC says is closely linked to Hwang's lab, allegedly provided the station with experimental notes containing the donor's name, patient number and the date the eggs were used. MBC claims these details match the MizMedi medical reports. The Chosun Ilbo on Tuesday cited another source claiming that eggs from two researchers in Hwang's lab were used. One was "a graduate student who invented a new way of removing the nucleus from eggs and is now working at a research institute in a US university", it said.Hwang has not replied to Nature's repeated requests for an interview.The effects of the allegations on the stem-cell field and on Hwang's research are unclear. On 15 November, after the news of Schatten's separation, the Korean government laid out plans to invest 11.5 billion won in the World Stem Cell Hub, an international research network to have been led by Hwang. But it also proposed to detach the hub from Seoul National University and make it an independent body. Many potential overseas collaborators have said their plans are on hold until the allegations are resolved.

How these events will affect Hwang's team's ability to publish is another open topic. "It's pretty clear that the editor of any journal would be on heightened alert if they received a piece of work from them, and would probably scrutinize it very carefully for the ethics of the work at the very least," says Gregory Curfman, executive editor of The New England Journal of Medicine.
"If it turned out that deliberate falsifications had been communicated to us in connection with that paper we would certainly have to make an announcement of that," says Donald Kennedy, editor-in-chief of Science, which published the work. "We would certainly say something about the caution with which we would treat future communications from that group."Most are holding out for a revelatory statement from Schatten or Hwang, who has been rumoured to be planning a press conference this week. "I hope Dr Hwang will give us the whole story," says Kennedy. "There's a different onus on Schatten - he has issued a dramatic statement and he's leaving it like a dead seal on our collective desks."

Saturday, November 12, 2005

We gotcha, you lying SOB

U.S. Scientist Leaves Joint Stem Cell Project
Alleged Ethical Breaches By South Korean Cited

A leading University of Pittsburgh researcher on embryonic stem cells said yesterday that he will disengage from a recently launched collaboration with a team of world-renowned South Korean scientists because he is convinced that the lead Korean researcher had engaged in ethical breaches and lied to him about them.

The Pitt scientist, Gerald P. Schatten, has for more than a year been the prime American stem cell scientist working with the South Korean researcher, Woo Suk Hwang of Seoul National University. Hwang was featured prominently in news reports in 2004 when he and his co-workers became the first to grow human embryonic stem cells from cloned human embryos. Since then, he has become something of a national hero and a global scientific celebrity.

Human embryonic stem cells, which have the capacity to become every kind of human tissue and are highly coveted for their potential to treat a wide variety of diseases, had previously been harvested only from conventional human embryos created through the union of sperm and eggs.

By deriving stem cells from cloned embryos, Hwang offered the first proof that a theorized approach to stem cell medicine -- "therapeutic cloning," or the creation of stem cells genetically matched to any patient who needed them -- was achievable.

Embryo cloning requires human eggs, which are typically donated by women in a process that requires a month-long series of hormone injections followed by a minor but not risk-free surgical procedure. Because of the modest but real health risks involved, researchers who perform the procedure are required to get informed consent from donors and fulfill other ethics requirements.

For many months after Hwang's 2004 publication, rumors had spread in scientific circles that the eggs Hwang used to achieve that landmark result had been taken from a junior scientist in his lab. That situation, if true, would be in violation of widely held ethics principles that preclude people in positions of authority from accepting egg donations from underlings. The rules are meant to prevent subtle -- or not-so-subtle -- acts of coercion.

Questions have also circulated as to whether the woman received illegal payments for her role.

Schatten said that Hwang had repeatedly denied the rumor and that he had believed Hwang until yesterday. "I now have information that leads me to believe he had misled me," Schatten said. "My trust has been shaken. I am sick at heart. I am not going to be able to collaborate with Woo Suk."

Just last month, at a high-level ceremony in Seoul attended by the South Korean president, Schatten and Hwang had announced a major not-for-profit collaboration that was to involve the creation of at least two major human embryo cloning labs in the United States and Britain. The plan was to have Korean scientists churn out as many as 100 specialized stem cell colonies each year for distribution to scientists for disease research.

Schatten said the University of Pittsburgh will release a statement today announcing its decision to pull out of that still nascent arrangement. Schatten said he will also announce his discovery of certain technical mistakes in a scientific paper he and Hwang had published together this year, though he added that he believes those errors were unintentional and did not represent evidence of scientific misconduct. He emphasized that the science behind the 2004 paper documenting the derivation of stem cells from cloned human embryos remains, to his knowledge, reliable.

The impact of yesterday's revelations could be far-reaching, Schatten and others acknowledged. Hundreds of scientists have visited Hwang's Seoul laboratories in the past two years, and many have initiated collaborations with him. The field has also been under scrutiny because of ethical concerns about the creation and destruction of cloned human embryos.

"The National Academy of Sciences guidelines for stem cell research prohibits payment to egg donors, and scientists in the U.S. have embraced those principles," said George Daley, a researcher at the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and at Children's Hospital Boston, who is scheduled to visit Hwang in Seoul later this month to look into setting up a collaboration. "There is a right way and a wrong way, and we must be sure to perform this vitally important medical research the right way."

Hwang could not be reached for comment last night.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Marmot has moved his hole.

Marmot wrote....

Just writing to tell you that my server has kindly requested that I get a dedicated server for my blog and suspended my account. Seems my site kept crashing their server. Or at least that's what I was told. Anyway, I've moved back to my Typepad account, where I'll probably be hanging around for at least the foreseeable future. I may park a domain name at the site (actually, I have been considering renaming the blog something more, well, Korea-centric), but even if I do, you'll still be able to access at http://marmot.blogs.com/korea/

If you could change your links and possibly make mention of this on your weblog, I'd be most grateful. I wish I could have put word up on my old weblog, but my account has been suspended and, for some odd reason, I can't keep it reopened for more than half a day without it crashing the server. Which blows.Thanks a lot,