중앙데일리

Geneticist advancing with more bold plans

May 23,2005
A spokeswoman for Korea’s leading geneticist, Hwang Woo-suk, said yesterday that his research team will soon conduct cross-species trials to test specialized cells in a quest to cure chronic diseases.
Ahn Curie, a professor at Seoul National University’s College of Medicine and Mr. Hwang’s colleague, said the team will be engaged in two sets of tests using monkeys. The scientists will attempt to transplant human stem cells into the monkeys to test for tolerance and side effects. They will also conduct experiments involving the transplanting of insulin-producing cells of pigs into the monkeys.
“The Laboratory of Primate Resources of the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology in Daejeon is in the process of importing about 20 monkeys for tests,” Ms. Ahn said. “As soon as they are imported, we will begin the experiments.” A research team official said the work would probably begin in July.
The researchers say they will inject human stem cells into the monkeys to test their effectiveness. Separately they will stimulate stem cells to grow into nerve or myocardial tissue and then try to transplant it.
Stem cells, which can develop into numerous kinds of tissue, offer the possibility of treating chronic diseases. It is hoped that they can eventually be used to treat illnesses such as diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.
In the plan to inject pig islet cells ― insulin-producing pancreas cells ― into the monkeys, the cells will be genetically manipulated by Mr. Hwang’s team to reduce rejection risks. Ms. Ahn has been researching with Mr. Hwang’s team on possible immune rejection risks when transplanting the pig cells into humans.
To conduct the experiments, Mr. Hwang’s team will open a special surgical facility, considered vital for the tests, at Seoul National.
Mr. Hwang’s researchers recently succeeded in developing a highly efficient method of establishing stem cell lines from cloned human embryos, gaining world acclaim. The achievement is seen as a step forward to use stem cells for therapeutic purposes, and the scientists have said they would continue research in the field.


by Park Bang-ju


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