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Stem cell fraudster gets suspended jail sentence

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted Nov. 9, 2009

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A South Korean court found stem cell researcher Hwang Woo-Suk guilty of fraud for fabricating data in papers on human cloning but gave him no jail time. According to Reuters, the court suspended a two-year sentence.

Hwang first gained renown in 2005 for cloning the world's first dog, Snuppy. Later work, published in some of the world's most prestigious scientific journals, purported to show that his lab cloned stem cells from an embryo, but the science was actually faked. Hwang's team fooled the world by merely splitting cells from one patient into two test tubes to make the DNA match, according to news reports.

Researchers are still hoping to do for real what Hwang lied about, saying that cloning research could help engineer stem-cell fixes tailored to each individual patient's disease and condition. In its ruling, the court said Hwang "has shown he has truly repented for his crime." Prosecutors sought a four-year prison term.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/11/09/prbf1109.htm.

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