Church to fund adult stem-cell research in South Korea

.- The Archdiocese of Seoul announced Wednesday that it will donate 10 billion won (about US$9.6 million) to a committee that will support adult stem-cell research. Most of the funds will come from the Church, with the remainder raised through donations, said Bishop Yeom Su-jeong, head of the committee. It also plans to award an annual grant of 300 million won to a scientist working in adult stem-cell research, reported The Associated Press.

The motivation is to raise awareness about the dignity of human life in the face of a strong lobby in favor of embryonic stem-cell research, which, according to Church teaching, violates human dignity by killing the embryo in the process.

Debates over stem-cell research have been heated in South Korea, where Korean native Hwang Woo-suk, has received international renown for first cloning human embryos in 2004 and extracting stem cells. However, he claims human cloning is not the aim of his research.

South Korea's government supports Hwang and his team, which created the first embryonic stem cells that genetically match injured or sick patients earlier this year.

In March, Christian leaders filed a lawsuit claiming a law that allows the use of embryonic stem cells for therapeutic purposes is unconstitutional. South Korea bans cloning for reproductive reasons but allows it for medical research.

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