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Government to Build a Pimate Experiment Center in SNU

  • July 28, 2006
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Korean government plans to build a primate experiment center soon inside Seoul National University  Hospital.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare said the facility will take various clinical tests on interspecies organ transplantation from monkeys to humans after its completion early next year.

``The government and SNU Hospital seek to funnel 2.3 billion won ($2.4 million) to set up the primate center equipped with high-tech medical gears,’’ said Kim Sung-su, deputy director at the ministry.

``The 130-pyong (429 square meters) center will house roughly 50 monkeys for experiments on interspecies organ transplantation and will be expanded by 100 pyong in 2008,’’ he added.

On the sideline of the clinical tests, Kim added the center will also work on stem cell research with the 50 monkeys, which will come from the state-backed Korea National Primate Research Center.

Korea put forth extraordinary efforts to boost the potential-laden bio-organ projects spearheaded by the once-hailed scientist Hwang Woo-suk.

Hwang especially focused on pigs as the sources of transplantable organs but the initiative lost steam after the veterinarian was found to have faked data to claim false exploits on tailor-made stem cells.

Despite the setbacks, Kim contended funds and resources must be channeled to studies on interspecies organ transplantation, which has bright prospects.

``The United States have eight state-run primate centers with up to a hundred experiment establishments. Japan also has dozens of such facilities,’’ Kim said.

``In comparison, we have just one government-sponsored primate center. To preempt the global markets for bio-organ industries, we need to ratchet up investment in the field,’’ he added.

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