Stem Cell Scandal

Reprinted from PN/Paraplegia News October 2014

After a five-month investigation by the Riken Center for Developmental Biology of two stress-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cell studies in the journal Nature, the papers were retracted in early July.

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The studies (reported in Stem Cell Strides, April PN, p. 18) done by researchers at Harvard University and the Riken Center in Kobe, Japan, reported that investigators had found a way to turn mature cells back into stem cells. Mature cells were exposed to acid, which caused enough stress to the cells to then revert back to stem cells called STAP cells.

In February, the Riken Center was notified of concerns that the two research papers on STAP cells showed research misconduct. The accusations made included concerns of fabricated photo evidence, plagiarism, differentiation of methods description and the actual procedure that was followed.

The center put together a committee to investigate these claims and found lead author Haruko Obokata guilty of two accounts research misconduct. In turn, all co-authors agreed to the retraction of the papers from Nature.

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