South Korea Back In Stem Cell Spotlight With New Treatment

by Heejung Jung and Yi Hyun-young ,  Reuters | 2011-07-07

(Reuters) - 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.

South Korea all but put stem cell research into the deep freeze after a pre-eminent scientist, Hwang Woo-suk, was found guilty of fraud for his work in the field in 2005.

The state Korea Food and Drug Administration's (KFDA) approval for the sale of the Hearticellgram-AMI treatment, developed by FCB-Pharmicell, from July 1 signals an ambitious new push to put research in the field back on the frontline.

"This marks the government opening the road for progressive development in stem cell research," said Oh Il-hwan, professor of molecular biology at the Catholic University School of Medicine in Seoul.

"It is expected to make it more accommodating for clinical research in this field," said Oh, who previously sat on KFDA panels overseeing stem cell research.



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