At Least We Still Have Snuppy
Snuppy, the cloned Afghan hound produced by South Korean researcher Woo Suk Hwang, is actually a clone. Unfortunately, that's about the only piece of Hwang's once celebrated breakthroughs left standing after the flurry of retractions and admissions of guilt that have been coming fast and furious for over a month now.
I've left this topic largely untreated as its developed for two reasons: 1) it's getting plenty of coverage everywhere else, and 2) it was (and still is) a rapidly developing story that often rendered statements, and their attendant commentary, irrelevant almost immediately.
For those who want a complete blow-by-blow account of the entire Hwang controversy you'll find one here. And for those who wonder what will remain of stem cell research after the dust has finally settled in South Korea, I commend your attention to a recent piece in Forbes magazine (thank you to blog.bioethics.net for bringing this to my attention).
The basic premise of the piece, with which I agree, is that the state of stem cell research now returns to it's pre-Woo Suk Hwang state. Which is to say, there's still a lot of work to do. What the cloning controversy almost certainly won't do is cripple funding or public support for stem cell research. While increased skepticism is sure to greet future breakthroughs in the field, the potential promise of therapeutic cloning is too great to allow one unfortunate incident to derail the entire field.
As David Magnus, director of the Stanford Center for Biomedical Ethics put it: "It's certainly disappointing that we're back to where we were, but it's not a disaster."
Update: The journal Science has formally retracted both of Hwang's articles.