On 29 April, South Korea's national bioethics committee conditionally approved a study using human eggs for stem-cell studies — the first such licence granted since a scandal unfolded over similar work by Korean researcher Woo Suk Hwang.

Woo Suk Hwang: still on trial for stem-cell fraud. Credit: CHUNG SUNG-JUN/GETTY

A team at Cha General Hospital in Seoul will be permitted to create cloned human embryos using the eggs. The study's go ahead is dependent on four conditions: donors must give informed consent; research with human eggs should be minimized; an internal review board must oversee the experiments; and the study cannot be hyped by mention of possible clinical benefit.

The research aims to establish stem-cell lines from the cloned embryos, for research and potentially for therapy. Hwang published claims to have done that in 2005, but in January 2006 his research was found to be fraudulent and his acquisition of human eggs unethical. He remains on trial for fraud, embezzlement and violation of the nation's bioethics law.