Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Friday, January 06, 2006

The Clone Wars

Wesley Smith at Secondhand Smoke has been following the Hwang fake cloning story in great detail over the last few weeks.
I especially like the post on how the fact it didn't happen, doesn't actually affect research.
"I don't think it has set back research, but clearly we weren't as far forward as we thought we were," says Jack Price, professor of developmental neurobiology at the Institute of Psychiatry in London.

He mentions the story about how Hwang coerced the women in his lab to donate their eggs. What an exploitation of women!

The Time magazine's bizarre spin is also dissected by Smith -

By all accounts, the tales of Hwang's dedication and personal discipline are all true. Hwang was one of the first to arrive in the lab, at 5 a.m., and rarely left before midnight. He rejected the role of aloof, inaccessible scientist to become a father-like figure for his young charges. And he introduced some genuine innovations into the science of cloning--gently squeezing the nucleus out of a donor egg rather than sucking it out violently and inserting the entire adult cell, not just its nucleus, into the hollowed-out recipient egg. Hwang insisted he had no interest in profiting from his discoveries; indeed, he turned over his patent rights to the university and the government.

That being the case, it seems unlikely that Hwang set out to perpetrate fraud.
Hwang claims it took six months to recover from the disaster. But it also might be that Hwang's team couldn't recover quickly enough and began taking shortcuts to fill the gap. Under pressure from the government and the university, and with a deadline looming for publication in one of the world's most prestigious journals, the temptation to stretch the truth [!!!] might have been irresistible...

Incredible - the man lies and defrauds the scientific community, but because he works hard and is "father-like" his greed for fame is overlooked because of deadlines - what planet is Time on??

Hwang deliberately misled Science and more importantly, then profits from his "discovery" in terms of recognition, which amounted to pretending to vulnerable patients that their diseases could be cured his way. Whereas most of the advances in terms of treating disease in animal models, and in some humans, has been from the use of adult stem cells.

The scientific community should not protect Hwang or anyone like him. Nor should the media, and more importantly, the media shouldn't pretend that his concepts of cloning are the only way that these therapeutic revolutions can happen.


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