Korean national hero and stem cell researcher Doctor Hwang Woo-Suk has resigned his post and taken full responsibility over a donor eggs scandal.
Donor eggs from researchers on his team were used in his teams research along with eggs being donated for in return for money without his knowledge.
It is understood that his researchers offered him their eggs and he refused but they donated them under false names anyway. The fees paid for other
eggs were stated to be for expenses only. The donations came before South Korea introduced new bio-ethics laws earlier this year which then outlawed
the trade of donor eggs for research.
Dr Hwang says he is resigning all official posts including the chairmanship of a new research body, the World Stem Cell Hub.
The body was established last month by the Government to produce stem cell lines for research institutes worldwide.
Dr Hwang and his team in February 2004 announced the first-ever cloning of human embryos, from which they harvested "therapeutic" embryonic stem
But in May 2004, the influential medical journal Nature raised ethical questions concerning the origin of Dr Hwang's ova.
Questioned by the journal, Dr Hwang denied that researchers in his team donated their own eggs to his research.
But the ethical cloud surrounding Dr Hwang deepened this month when Gerald Schatten, a prominent researcher at the University of Pittsburgh, severed a
20-month collaboration with him.
Under internationally accepted medical ethics standards, researchers are warned against receiving ova from members of their own research teams, who
are deemed to be in a dependent relationship and vulnerable to pressure.
"We needed a lot of ova for the research but there were not enough ova around," Dr Hwang said.
A colleague of Dr Hwang says he had paid thousands of dollars for 16 human eggs without telling Dr Hwang.
Researchers in the United States and elsewhere whose efforts are limited by lack of ova had expressed surprise last year when Dr Hwang revealed that
he used 242 human eggs to create one stem cell line.
They could have a valuable therapeutic use in treating illnesses from cancer to Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease, experts say.
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Once again the questions of ethics in research raises it's ugly head. It is good that laws have now been enacted to protect against the trade of
eggs but it is also apparent that this research has made massive breakthroughs for medical issues.
[edit on 24-11-2005 by Mayet]