February 24, 2024

Asian stem cell centres “mind-boggling”

UK scientists returning from a visit to Asia report that a staggering level of technology and commitment is being put into stem cell research in Beijing, Shanghai, Seoul and Singapore. “I came back blown away by the whole thing,” said Stephen Minger, of King’s College London, one of Britain’s leading stem cell researchers. “It was mind-boggling to everybody.” In Seoul, he found that the labs of Hwang Woo-suk, the first scientist to clone human embryos, were better equipped than his own and that Hwang’s team was cloning nearly a thousand animal embryos a day. In China there was a similar level of quality and commitment.

In terms of ideas and concepts, they’re not out ahead; they’re in the pack with the rest of us. But you do get the sense that it is moving more quickly toward the clinic, and in the right way, without cutting corners on ethics, either,” said Dr Minger. (This does not quite square with reports that some Western researchers are moving to China precisely because it has looser ethical standards.)