Top journal retracts ‘game-changer’ stem cell study

Agence France-Presse
Leading science journal Nature is withdrawing a stem cell study published January after 'all co-authors...concluded that they cannot stand behind the papers'

RETRACTION? This handout picture, released from Japan's Kyoto University Center for iPS Cell Research and Application (CiRA) on January 23, 2013 shows part of the renal tubule cells (red part) which were differentiated from human stem cells at the CiRA in Kyoto. Kyoto University/AFP

PARIS, France – Leading science journal Nature is withdrawing a stem cell study published in January that had been hailed as a “game-changer” in the quest to grow transplant tissue.

The announcement on Wednesday, July 2, came after mistakes were discovered in some data published in two papers, photograph captions were found to be misleading, and the work itself could not be repeated by other scientists, it said.

“All co-authors of both papers have finally concluded that they cannot stand behind the papers, and have decided to retract them,” the journal said in an editorial.

Nature said it would tighten up procedures to vet future studies submitted for publication.

On June 4, Japan’s Riken research institute said lead scientist Haruko Obotaka, 30, had agreed to retract the papers after an investigation.

Obokata was feted after unveiling findings that appeared to show a straight-forward way to reprogram adult cells to become stem cells – precursors that are capable of developing into any other cell in the human body.

Identifying a readily-manufacturable supply of stem cells could one day help meet a need for transplant tissues, or even whole organs. – 

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