Skip to Content
Uncategorized

Korean Cloners Face Ethics Probe

Korean biologists recently made headlines with the first successful step toward therapeutic cloning–the creation of master cells genetically identical to a donor from cloned human embryos. Now the researchers, Woo Suk Hwang and Shin Yong Moon of Seoul National University,…

Korean biologists recently made headlines with the first successful step toward therapeutic cloning–the creation of master cells genetically identical to a donor from cloned human embryos. Now the researchers, Woo Suk Hwang and Shin Yong Moon of Seoul National University, face serious questions over the methods used to recruit the egg donors that were critical for the study. In February, the team announced that they had not only successfully cloned human embryos, but also produced stem cells–that is, cells capable of becoming any tissue in the body–from those embryos. The work was hailed worldwide, both for its potential to one day provide patients with replacement cells, tissues, or even organs 100% compatible with their own and as the first rigorously reviewed evidence that such cells could be created.

Today, the journal Nature published a story that raises serious questions over the researchers’ recruiting of 16 volunteer egg donors, an astonishingly high number. Among the allegations: one of the study’s junior authors may have been a donor. Korean citizens’ groups and leading bioethicists are pressuring South Korea’s National Human Rights Commission to investigate.

While the researchers may well be exonerated, the fact that such questions have even been raised only fuels the arguments of those who claim that stem cell and therapeutic cloning research are ethical quagmires and that principled, reputable research in these areas is impossible. If the questions aren’t resolved quickly, the consequences for therapeutic cloning research–and in the U.S., even for unrelated embryonic stem cell research–could be disastrous.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

Here’s how a Twitter engineer says it will break in the coming weeks

One insider says the company’s current staffing isn’t able to sustain the platform.

Technology that lets us “speak” to our dead relatives has arrived. Are we ready?

Digital clones of the people we love could forever change how we grieve.

How to befriend a crow

I watched a bunch of crows on TikTok and now I'm trying to connect with some local birds.

Starlink signals can be reverse-engineered to work like GPS—whether SpaceX likes it or not

Elon said no thanks to using his mega-constellation for navigation. Researchers went ahead anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.