Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hwang Woo Suk: Another Faked Paper, but a Still Real Snuppy

The Korea Herald this morning announced the news that "Hwang's team fabricated 2004 paper" and that Hwang "lied about ova donation by junior researchers."

Neither of these was unexpected (and anyway were announced yesterday), but I am curious to see that:
"Hwang's claim of having produced the world's first cloned dog is authentic, the Seoul National University panel said in its final report released yesterday."
So . . . Hwang is not a total fraud. This coheres with my view that Hwang thought that he was taking a rational risk by cheating to stake a claim that he figured to make good on later through developing his technology enough to do what he claimed to have already achieved.

He must have believed himself close enough, but that turned out to be wrong. Badly wrong. Hwang will need to alter the traditional folk song Arirang from the following:

아리랑, 아리랑, 아라리요...
아리랑 고개로 넘어간다.

Arirang, Arirang, Arariyo...
Arirang gogaero neomeoganda.

And reword it to say:

Are we wrong, are we wrong, are we, are we, oh?
Are we wrong? Was it all propaganda?

Still . . . cloning a dog is itself quite an achievement, so it's not all just propaganda.

Yet . . . how do they know that it was cloned? I understand the basic point, of course. Snuppy has mitochondria that differ from the mitochondria in the somatic cells of the dog from which Snuppy's nuclear genetic material was obtained.

But couldn't Hwang have cheated on this?
Suppose that Hwang had twinned a fertilized egg cell and frozen one of those two at the one-celled stage after extracting its mitochondria and implanting different mitochondria from a female dog. He could then have waited until the nonfrozen twin was an adult, thawed the frozen twin, implanted it in the female dog from which the mitochondria had been taken, and allowed this twin to develop. Later, Hwang could claim to have cloned this dog -- the famous Snuppy -- by having taken the genetic material from the nucleus of another dog (its twin, of course, but without informing anyone that the two were twins) and by having implanted this nuclear material in an egg of a female dog (from which, in fact, only mitochondria had been obtained but, again, without informing anyone of the truth).
I don't know if this is really possible, but my hunch is that replacing a cell's mitochondria would be simpler than replacing its nucleus.

Any experts out there who can comment?


At 10:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting.. that you are in Korea.
It is extremely difficult for the honest scientists now to fight fraud in science. I would not be surprised if 90% of stem cells research later proves as fake or crudely misinterpreted data.

I conducted research in the area of cell division (closely related to stem cells research) for many years. My first paper on the subject was published in 1969. My last work (with another author; see was released this year. This work demonstrates, for the first time, a model of cell division in a real tissue based on real conditions that exist in tissues. I know that many premises on which stem cells research is based are wrong.

However, a large part of my previous research was simply stolen and published under the names of thieves who could hardly even understand what they published (although, earlier, characterized my research as "studies of far reaching significance"). I was removed from university to give way to the fraud. See

But, still, Korea is more honest as a country.

Michael Pyshnov.

At 10:55 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sorry to hear of your troubles, Michael. Best of luck in the future.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 5:01 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

The people at "Paper Research" write like this:

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Never trust a business selling research papers if that business can't spell "college," randomly capitalizes common nouns and adjectives, and uses a questionable question mark followed by an otiose period.

Jeffery Hodges

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