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University Panel: South Korean Scientist's Patient-Specific Stem Cell Claims False

A Seoul National University panel has issued further findings indicating South Korean scientist Hwang Woo-sok faked his human stem cell research. The panel concluded that the final two stem cell lines the researcher said he produced from cloned human embryos do not match the patients in question.

Roe Jung-hye, chief of the research panel, said Thursday Dr. Hwang has "no proof" to back up claims he produced human stem cells genetically matched to individual patients.

That bombshell comes a week after the same panel said the other nine of Dr. Hwang's reported 11 stem cell lines were forgeries.

Dr. Hwang shot to world fame this year when his claims raised hopes for disease therapies based on stem cells - master cells from which other types of cell can develop. He may now face criminal charges for fraud.

Dr. Hwang insists he possesses the basic technology behind his human stem cell claims. He accuses a Seoul hospital that collaborated on his research of replacing his stem cells with others from fertilized eggs - a claim the hospital denies.

Dr. Hwang has apologized for fabricating his results and resigned all of his official posts. Earlier he also owned up to ethical irregularities in the way he obtained human eggs for research.

Dr. Hwang's damaged credibility has put his other high-profile claims under scrutiny. Among them is "Snuppy", an Afghan hound Dr. Hwang presented this year as the first cloned dog.

Researchers are also seeking to verify Dr. Hwang's reported cloning of a human embryo last year.

The Seoul National University panel says it will make public its findings on both issues in a comprehensive final report by the middle of next month.

The stem cell scandal has also generated political fallout. Dr. Hwang received millions of dollars in state funding for his research and the government is under pressure to ensure this kind of debacle does not happen again.

South Korean authorities say they are setting up new review boards to monitor scientific work. Opposition political parties have vowed to probe why the South Korean government was not more critical before embracing, and financing, Dr. Hwang's work.