Stem Cells without Moral Corruption

Washington Post, July 6, 2006, with Eric Cohen.

For the past few years many of the world’s leading scientists have promoted so-called therapeutic cloning as the most promising way to produce clinically useful, genetically tailored, biologically versatile stem cells. That is why claims by a team of South Korean researchers — one in 2004 that the first cloned human embryo had been produced, then another in 2005 that the process of producing embryonic stem cell lines from cloned embryos could be done routinely and efficiently — were hailed as a watershed.

Hwang Woo Suk, the lead researcher, became an international celebrity. The best American scientists traveled to Seoul to observe his laboratory and study his techniques. Hwang called his work “holy, pure and genuine.”

But then the world discovered that it was all a scandalous fraud. Last November, we learned that Hwang had used eggs procured from junior researchers in his own lab — a violation of the Helsinki Declaration that governs medical research — and then lied to cover it up. His partner, Roh Sung Il, paid “volunteers” for additional eggs and forced them to lie about it on their consent forms. Then, in a succession of astonishing revelations, it became clear that the published data had been fabricated. Apparently no cloned human embryos were ever produced; no embryonic stem cells were ever created….

Washington Post