Two Nobel judges dismissed over medical ethics scandal


Stockholm (AFP)

Two members of the assembly that awards the Nobel prize for medicine are to quit for failing to heed warnings about a major ethics scandal, the panel said Tuesday.

The secretary of the Nobel Assembly, Thomas Perlmann, said Harriet Wallberg and Anders Hamsten were being asked to step down.

"The crisis of trust is such... that we are going to ask them to leave the Nobel Assembly," he told the Swedish news agency TT.

The pair are former rectors of the Karolinska Institute (KI), Sweden's paramount medical university, where the scandal coincided with their spells in office.

The affair centers on Italian surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, who in 2011 soared to fame for carrying out the first synthetic trachea, or windpipe, using stem cells -- immature cells that grow into the body's specialised tissues.

His work was initially hailed as a game-changer for transplant medicine. But two patients died and a third was left severely ill.

Allegations ensued that the risky procedure had been carried out on at least one individual who had not been life-threateningly ill. Swedish police are carrying out an investigation for manslaughter.