Thursday, March 13, 2014

Further on the paper in Nature about stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells

An article reproduced in the Chicago Tribune gives details about the problems with the scientific publication on STAP cells in the journal Nature.

STAP cells were identified as a third kind of pluripotent cells, after two similar types — embryonic stem (ES) cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells.  The earlier work by Hwang Woo Suk had related to ES cells ["SCNT"], and involved two papers published in the journal Science, since retracted. 

The Hwang Woo Suk problem initially was described as a mix-up in labelling figures.  The Tribune post included the text

"I think senior officials at RIKEN regard the mistakes as almost fatal," Teruhiko Wakayama, a professor at the University of Yamanashi and one of the coauthors of the papers, told reporters Tuesday morning at the university.

Wakayama said he received emails from two senior officials at RIKEN's Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) on Monday, when it was discovered that images used in the STAP cell papers looked almost identical to those used in Obokata's doctoral thesis. In the emails, they said, "Under the circumstances, there is no choice but to withdraw the papers."
In regard to the two articles on STAP cells carried in the Jan. 30 issue of Nature, problems such as the use of two identical images surfaced in mid-February. While RIKEN has not provided any detailed explanations, maintaining that "the fundamentals of the research will not be affected," many researchers have pointed out that pictures and quotations in the papers are "unnatural" or "questionable."

The Tribune post also raised a "copying" issue

However, doubts about the papers have continued to be raised, and it was discovered Tuesday that Obokata's doctoral thesis contained a large number of descriptions suspected to be quotations used without permission.

Keyword:  RIKEN researcher Haruko Obokata


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