Real Unreality of Stem Cell Research

The South Kore­an Woo Suk Hwang episode, uncov­ered in 2005, is one of the most noto­ri­ous sci­en­tif­ic scan­dals of recent times. I had very recent­ly post­ed about a sim­i­lar fraud by an Indi­an researcher.

_42472627_hwang_203In a tumul­tuous dis­cov­ery, it is now estab­lished that Hwang achieved some­thing much more spec­tac­u­lar than what he fraud­u­lent­ly claimed!

Hwang’s stem cells were found to be cre­at­ed not from cloned embryos, but extract­ed from embryos pro­duced by the so-called “vir­gin birth” method, or partheno­gen­e­sis. This is a tech­nique where eggs are con­vert­ed into embryos with­out being fer­til­ized by sperm.

Nicholas Wade in the NY Times says “Embry­on­ic stem cells derived through partheno­gen­e­sis can­not devel­op nor­mal­ly, so they are free of eth­i­cal objec­tions.” The BBC calls it a break­through. Strange are the ways of sci­ence!

As an aside, it is nice to find one of the ‘most read’ arti­cle on BBC today to be about some­thing I’d writ­ten more than three weeks back! 🙂

Pho­to Cred­it: BBC/Getty Images

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