Science Awaiting Details
On Request To Retract Stem Cell Paper
Donald Kennedy, Science editor in chief, said Friday
that the journal is closely monitoring a controversy that has emerged
over a landmark May 2005 embryonic stem cell paper. The journal has
received a request for retraction from the lead authors, Woo Suk Hwang
and Gerald Schatten, but Science is withholding action
on that request until all 25 co-authors sign off on the request, Kennedy
told reporters in a telephonic news conference.
The study, first published in May, said Hwang’s South Korean
lab created 11 stem cell lines from adult skin tissue. In doing so,
Hwang and his colleagues were apparently the first in the world to
create embryonic stem cells matched to a patient's DNA. Researchers
have hoped that someday such work will allow advanced treatments on
diabetes, spinal cord injuries and other medical problems.
The work has been troubled in recent weeks by allegations from Schatten
and others of ethical and scientific breaches in Hwang’s lab.
Kennedy said Science editors are closely monitoring investigations
underway into the allegations, but currently lack detailed information
on the reported problems.
The paper under scrutiny is "Patient-Specific Embryonic Stem
Cells Derived from Human SCNT Blastocysts," 19 May 2005, Science
Express; 17 June 2005, Science. Kennedy said a second
important paper by Hwang's group — "Evidence of a Pluripotent
Human Embryonic Stem Cell Line Derived from a Cloned Blastocyst,"
12 February 2004, Science Express; 12 March 2004, Science
— may also come under review as more is learned from the investigations
To hear a recording of the full telephonic press conference with
Kennedy and Science Deputy Editor Katrina Kelner, click
here. Science has issued a formal statement on the
current controversy. The most recent version of the statement as well
as updates can be found here.
Edward W. Lempinen
16 December 2005