Disgraced South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-suk, who falsified stem cell research data, testified Tuesday that his team had never succeeded in cultivating stem cells matched to patients.

Hwang Woo-suk, who once claimed to have produced the first cloned human embryonic stem cells, said he “succeeded in making blastocysts for tailored stem cells but there wasn’t any success in cultivating (patient-specific) stem cells,” his lawyer Jung Keun-hwa said after a trial hearing in Seoul. Blastocysts are early-stage embryos.

Seoul National University, where Hwang used to work, fired him in March after concluding that his claims to have created the world’s first cloned embryonic stem cells, including those matched to specific patients, were fabricated.

The scientist has been on trial for charges of embezzlement and fraud for allegedly accepting private donations based on the outcome of the falsified research and for allegedly misusing private and government research funds. If convicted, he faces at least three years in prison.

Stem cells are the basic cells that can grow into all kinds of tissue, and cloning them could create a way for patients to be treated with cells matching their own DNA — minimizing risk of rejection.

Link [www.iht.com/articles/ap/2006/11/14/asia/AS_GEN_SKorea_Disgraced_Scientist.php]