Posts Tagged ‘South Korea’

S. Korea acts to recover from Hwang Woo-suk stem-cell debacle

September 19, 2011

Hwang Woo-suk “is a South Korean veterinarian and researcher. He was a professor of theriogenology and biotechnology at Seoul National University (dismissed on March 20, 2006) who became infamous for fabricating a series of experiments, which appeared in high-profile journals, in the field of stem cell research. Until November 2005, he was considered one of the pioneering experts in the field, best known for two articles published in the journal Science in 2004 and 2005 where he reported to have succeeded in creating human embryonic stem cells by cloning”.

Now the S. Korean government has introduced new regulations and is pumping more money into stem-cell research in an effort to rebuild the pre-eminent position that the country once had. The potential  for financial benefits for the technology leaders in  stem-cell based medical treatment is enormous and the government is responding to pressure from the country’s health care industry. The government sees potential for revenues for the country from stem-cell based treatments equalling or surpassing even that from its IT industry.

FCB-Pharmicell is a leading Korean company trying to use stem-cell based techniques for medical treatments and in July their Hearticellgram-AMI treatment was approved by the Korean Food and Drug Administration for the clinical treatment of heart-attack victims.

InvestorStemCell: More than five years after South Korea’s scientific reputation was shattered by a cloning research scandal, the country has approved stem cell medication in the form of a treatment for heart attack victims for the world’s first clinical use. …. Unlike embryonic stem cells, the use of somatic — or adult — stem cells, as in this case, is not controversial as they are derived from adult tissue samples and not destroyed human embryos. ….

Countries such as the United States and Germany are using this radical form of treatment in a ‘research’ capacity. What puts the South Korean team ahead is that it has shown the treatment as being good enough to win regulatory approval and make it available for clinical use.

…. After six years of clinical trials, the KFDA said it had finalized all procedures needed to permit the sale of Hearticellgram-AMI, a stem cell therapy for acute myocardial infarction, commonly known as heart attack.

Now the government is taking regulatory action to strengthen the oversight provisions but also to simplify licencing. The objective is to try and regain the reputation and credibility of the S. Korean researchers and the companies poised to commercialise the new techniques:

Reuters: South Korea’s president vowed on Monday a series of regulatory reforms to help regain its place as a stem cell research powerhouse, trying to reclaim momentum five years after a cloning scandal. President Lee Myung-bak said that by breathing new life into the industry, it could become “core new growth engine” for Asia’s fourth biggest economy along the same lines as its lucrative IT sector.

“Just a decade ago, Korea took the lead in stem cell research in the world along with the United States,” Lee said in a bi-weekly radio address. “Unfortunately, there was a disappointing incident, which caused inevitable damage to the entire stem-cell research community in Korea,” Lee said, referring to the scandal involving the pre-eminent scientist, Hwang Woo-suk. … As a result of the scandal, South Korea all but put stem cell research into the deep freeze. Lee said the lapse had allowed other countries such as the United States, Japan, Britain and China to get the jump on South Korea, depriving the country of valuable revenue. “While we were faltering in our quest for stem cell research, other nations streamlined their regulations and aggressively expanded their investments in research,” he said.

Lee said the government would invest nearly 100 billion won ($90 million) in stem cell research next year and that it would reform related regulations to make clinical and licensing procedures easier. He said the reforms would help the Korea Food and Drug Administration (KFDA) and other agencies “to ensure that they proactively adapt to the changes in the international environment”. 

“The government has decided to foster the stem cell industry as a core new growth engine following the footsteps of the IT industry,” he said.



Heaviest snowfall in a century in South Korea

February 14, 2011

An excavator removes snow from a road in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, Sunday. The heaviest snowfall in a century hit Gangneung and other cities in the eastern part of the province between Friday and Saturday, with hundreds of people stranded on roads and causing property damage. / Korea Times photo by Kim Joo-young

While all the snow and ice covering a large part of the Northern hemisphere does not prove anything about climate, in the style of the global warmists we could say that it is entirely consistent with the coming of a new Dalton-like solar minimum and a coming ice-age!!

From the BBC:

The heaviest snowfall in more than a century on South Korea’s east coast is causing widespread chaos. Hundreds of houses have collapsed under the weight of the snow. One newspaper described it as a snow bomb. The South Korean government has deployed 12,000 soldiers to rescue stranded residents.

The worst weather has been in Gangwon province. Weather experts say there will be more snowfall in the area in the coming hours. “I am 83 years old. It’s the heaviest snow in my life. I am really grateful for the soldiers’ help,” said Park Chae-ran. …..

….. January was the coldest since the 1960s. In Gangwon on the eastern coast, one city recorded 80cm (2.6 feet) of snow in a single day – the heaviest fall in 24 hours since records began there back in 1911.

The Han River in the capital, Seoul, iced over for the first time in years – but the latest snowfalls have left the capital unaffected so far.

More snow is forecast.

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