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Embryo cloning cheat resigns in disgrace

The world's most successful cloning scientist, Prof Hwang Woo-suk, who was hailed as a superstar with "God's hand" in his native South Korea, has resigned in disgrace.

The furore that erupted just before Christmas over how his team partly faked results will send shock waves around the scientific world, damage the image of biotechnology and cast a shadow over rival British efforts to develop the next generation of medicine.

Hwang made headlines in 2004 when he unveiled the first cloned human embryo. Last year he published announced the creation of more than 30 cloned human embryos and 11 lines of stem cells which could be grown into any of the 200 cell types found in the body.

The work marked the start of what many scientists believed would be a revolution, with stem cells being grown from patients to treat a vast range of diseases.

Snuppy, an Afghan Hound dog was also said to have been cloned by Hwang.

On December 23rd. he apologised for his misleading research, stripped himself of his professorship and resigned from Seoul National University, the country's leading educational institution, after an expert committee announced the initial findings of an inquiry.

Hwang's team is alleged to have fabricated at least nine of his 11 stem cell lines, manipulating photographs and concocting DNA tests.

The extent of the deceit is being examined by the scientists involved in similar reasearch in this country and who were allegedly ‘impressed’ by visits to South Korea in the wake of the ‘discoveries’.