Hwang: Will Pitt's tighter stem cell oversight result in better 'science'?

Dianne N. Irving
Copyright April 11, 2006
Reproduced with Permission

It would seem that the University of Pittsburgh is getting nervous about all the bad news coming out concerning South Korea's stem cell researcher and cloner Hwang. Note that Pitt's new regulations involve bioethicist Jonathan Moreno (who still believes in the defunct "biogenetics law") and Meisel (who still uses the defunct "pre-embryo") who are BIOETHICS FOUNDERS. Hence the NAS "guidelines" on stem cell research that they developed will follow the same fraudulent science and apply the same corrupt bioethics ethics "principles" in evaluating all research protocols on human cloning and human embryonic stem cell research -- including those submitted by the University of Pittsburgh (including that of Hwang co-author Schatten). Note too that the two formal NAS reports on stem cell research and on cloning were chaired by Irving Weissman (California Prop 71).

No surprise then that these NAS reports incorporate Weissman's fake science, i.e., that "therapeutic" cloning isn't really cloning but rather just "stem cell research"; that the immediate product of BOTH sexual and asexual human reproduction is "just a cell" and the 5-7 day human embryo at the blastocyst stage is "just a ball of cells" -- no human being or human organism there! And quite amazingly they continue to get away with it.

If science is really worried that the public views any research now with jaded eyes, why don't the REAL scientists stand up and tell the truth for a change -- just the accurate objective scientific facts that have been known for over 100 years? Conflict of interests? See my concerned comments on these NAS "stem cell research guidelines" discussed in my article: "New NAS Report Ushers In Wild Wild West of Human Cloning and Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research" (April 26, 2005), at: http://www.lifeissues.net/writers/irv/irv_92newnasreport.html.


Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
April 11, 2006
By Jennifer Bails

Pitt tightens stem cell oversight

The University of Pittsburgh is tightening its policies governing human embryonic stem cell research in a way that would more strictly regulate the work conducted by a faculty scientist embroiled in the recent South Korean cloning scandal.

The move, touched off in April 2005 by the National Academy of Sciences, began last summer at most research institutions in the United States working with such stem cells.

"Right now there really is no oversight of who is doing what with human embryonic stem cells," said University of Virginia bioethicist Jonathan Moreno, who served as co-chair of the panel that wrote the National Academy report. "The hope is that our guidelines will help to create a fairly uniform set of standards from one institution to another."

Pitt started to work on its new guidelines several months before questions arose about reproductive biologist Gerald Schatten's role in the scientific fraud that led to the downfall of now-disgraced cloning expert Hwang Woo-Suk.

But Schatten -- who conducts high-profile, often federally funded stem cell research at the Pitt-affiliated Magee-Womens Research Institute in Oakland -- will be among the scientists likely affected by the university's proposed oversight policies released last Tuesday for a month-long review.

The proposed guidelines charge an Embryonic Stem Cell Research Oversight -- ESCRO -- committee under the leadership of Pitt law professor Alan Meisel with making sure all stem cell research at the university is conducted legally and ethically.

The ESCRO committee will have the authority to approve, monitor and suspend or terminate all research involving human embryonic stem cells, as well as stem cells harvested from adult bone marrow and blood, umbilical cord blood and placentas.

The proposed policy also puts the committee of legal and ethical experts, scientists and community advocates in charge of maintaining a registry of all human embryonic stem cells lines used at the university.

Human embryonic stem cells have the capacity to become cells for virtually all body tissues and organs. Study of these cells is contentious because obtaining them requires the destruction of 5-day-old human embryos left over from in vitro fertility treatments or cloned specifically for research.

On Aug. 9, 2001, President Bush announced restrictions dictating that federal money can be used for embryonic stem cell research only if the cells were harvested from embryos before that date. Originally, 78 stem cell sources were approved for the national registry, but only 22 Bush-sanctioned colonies now are available for distribution, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Pitt's proposed guidelines place scientists seeking to do research on stem cell lines not listed on the national registry under especially strict oversight.

That category would have included the cell lines Schatten and Hwang wrote about in their landmark paper in the journal Science in June 2005.

In the paper, Schatten and Hwang claimed to have created 11 custom-designed stem cell lines for individual patients from cloned human embryos. Their findings raised hopes that researchers would soon develop powerful stem cell cures for diseases such as Parkinson's or diabetes.

A Korean investigation revealed in January 2006 that Hwang and possibly others deliberately fabricated the data for the paper, which Science later retracted.

Although a Pitt investigative panel fell short of finding Schatten complicit in the fraud, it did rule that he shirked his scientific responsibilities while seeking professional and financial gains.

Such impropriety illustrates the need for greater oversight, Moreno said.

"Virtually every major university and research institution has embraced the principles in our report, and in some cases have issued tougher guidelines," he said. "I, for one, am very pleased with this reaction, particularly in light of the South Korean cloning scandal."

Pitt's proposed guidelines say research on non-listed stem cell lines will be considered for approval by the ESCRO committee only if the scientist provides evidence the work will be conducted in non-federally funded space and will not be paid for by federal dollars.

A detailed submission process not fully explained in the draft policy also will be required.

Schatten, who has not spoken publicly since severing ties with Hwang in November, could not be reached yesterday.

Neither Meisel, who heads Pitt's Center for Bioethics and Health Law, nor spokeswoman Jane Duffield returned e-mail messages or phone calls asking for comment.

Jennifer Bails can be reached at jbails@tribweb.com or (412) 320-7991.

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