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Stem cell hopefuls swamp Korean research website

'I wish I could walk again'

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The website of the World Stem Cell Hub in Seoul was reduced to a crawl for several hours earlier today after it bgean accepting applications for patients with spinal injuries or Parkinson's disease willing to take part in stem cell research, AP reports.

Despite explicitly stating that the volunteers were being asked to donate samples for research purposes - and not potential treatment - the site was overwhelmed with people hopeful of a cure.

Wheelchair-bound Lee Kil-no, 52, went in person to the centre at Seoul National University Hospital to make his application. He said: "I'm pinning all hopes on this. I believe my condition will improve if I get this treatment. I wish I could walk again." Lee was paralysed from the chest down after falling five storeys on a construction site.

Earlier this morning, the centre had already received 1,200 applications. Website manager Yang Sung-kee admitted: "Our website was extremely slow for about three hours from 8am as there were too many access attempts. It looked like the server went down, but it didn't."

The World Stem Cell Hub also deployed security experts in case of an attack by opponents of the technique, but none was forthcoming.

The Hub - led by leading cloning scientist Hwang Woo-suk - opened for business on 19 October. It acts as a "bank" providing scientists worldwide with embryonic stem cells for research, and plans to open branches in the US and UK.

Back in August, Hwang announced that his team had produced the world's first cloned dog, using the same somatic nuclear cell transfer method used to create Dolly the sheep. In May Hwang's team managed to brew up stem cells by cloning embryos that are genetically identical to specific individuals, thereby "successfully demonstrating the principle of therapeutic cloning", as we reported at the time. ®

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