Last week, the journal Science formally retracted two stem cell papers published by Woo Suk Hwang and colleagues at Seoul National University in the Republic of Korea. In the first paper, published in February 2004, Hwang and colleagues purported to have cloned human cells for the first time (see ARF related news story); in the second, published in May last year, the researchers claimed to have generated 11 stem cell lines from somatic nuclei donated by nine different individuals (see ARF related news story). That second paper, which listed Gerald Schatten from the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania, as senior author, seemed to herald an era of personalized stem cells, but it was not to be. Late last year, questions about the veracity of the data (see ARF related news story) led to investigations by Seoul National University. On January 6, the investigation committee released its conclusion that both papers were fabricated.
Despite the retraction (see full text at the Science website), the fallout from this debacle continues. Editors of the journal Stem Cells are now carefully scrutinizing papers published by investigators who have worked previously with Hwang (see Stem Cells expression of concern), while Science is reporting that several other journals, including Molecular Reproduction and Development, are in the midst of their own investigations. One journal, Biology of Reproduction, has already retracted a paper because it used images that also appeared in Hwang’s 2004 science paper (see http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/content/full/311/5759/321b).
The only good news from all of this seems to be Snuppy, the world’s first cloned dog. The investigation committee at Seoul National University reported that Snuppy is indeed a clone of Tie, the Afghan hound (see Lee et al., 2005).—Tom Fagan.
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- Senior Author Requests Retraction of Cloning Paper
- Lee BC, Kim MK, Jang G, Oh HJ, Yuda F, Kim HJ, Hossein MS, Shamim MH, Kim JJ, Kang SK, Schatten G, Hwang WS. Dogs cloned from adult somatic cells. Nature. 2005 Aug 4;436(7051):641. PubMed.
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- Hwang WS, Roh SI, Lee BC, Kang SK, Kwon DK, Kim S, Kim SJ, Park SW, Kwon HS, Lee CK, Lee JB, Kim JM, Ahn C, Paek SH, Chang SS, Koo JJ, Yoon HS, Hwang JH, Hwang YY, Park YS, Oh SK, Kim HS, Park JH, Moon SY, Schatten G. Patient-specific embryonic stem cells derived from human SCNT blastocysts. Science. 2005 Jun 17;308(5729):1777-83. PubMed.
- Hwang WS, Ryu YJ, Park JH, Park ES, Lee EG, Koo JM, Jeon HY, Lee BC, Kang SK, Kim SJ, Ahn C, Hwang JH, Park KY, Cibelli JB, Moon SY. Evidence of a pluripotent human embryonic stem cell line derived from a cloned blastocyst. Science. 2004 Mar 12;303(5664):1669-74. Epub 2004 Feb 12 PubMed.