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Korean cloners in new faking investigation

Journal suspends wolf research

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Access to research which reported the cloning of two endangered Korean wolves has been suspended by publishers pending an investigation into the veracity of the claims.

The wolves were paraded in front of the world's media by Seoul National University just over two weeks ago, but their origins quickly became the subject of suspicion. Blood samples were sent away on Tuesday for independent DNA testing.

The team behind the research was led by Lee Byeong-chun, a former collaborator of disgraced cloning pioneer Hwang Woo-suk. Hwang is on trial for his part in falsifying evidence that he had cloned human embryos, and has told the court: "I admit to the suspicion of fabrication." His groundbreaking research had been a matter of great national pride for Korea.

Seoul National University said on Monday it would carefully investigate Lee's wolf research. Local media reports that the results will be known within two weeks. A spokesman said: "I assure you the investigation will be thorough as the school's honour is at stake."

Lee's US publisher Cloning and Stem Cells, has pulled the paper from its website. Instead, a statement reads: "The authors of this paper...have requested corrections to the text. Cloning and Stem Cells will await the outcome of [Seoul National University's] investigation before deciding upon any action."

The lab under suspicion had its 2005 claim that it cloned a domestic dog independently verified last year. ®

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