Scientist Apologizes for Mistakes in Stem Cell Research

Image: Scientist Apologizes for Mistakes in Stem Cell Research

Wednesday, 16 Apr 2014 01:29 PM

By Courtney Coren

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A Japanese scientist who co-authored what was deemed breakthrough stem cell research issued an apology Wednesday over mistakes that were found in the research.

The apology came from Yoshiki Sasai, deputy director of the Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, who had worked on two stem-cell papers that were published in the journal Nature in January, saying that they had discovered how to make embryonic-like stem cells from adult mice that could be used to generate different types of tissue, The Wall Street Journal reported.

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The research was praised as being a "game changer" in stem cell research.

However, scientists who tried to recreate the results that Sasai, co-author Haruko Obokata, and others published were unable to do so and questioned the data and images published as part of the research results.

Another member of the research team said in March that he was starting to question the results, as well.

"It's no longer clear what is right," said Teruhiko Wakayama, professor at University of Yamanashi in Japan. "When conducting the experiment, I believed it was absolutely right. But now that mistakes have emerged, I think it is best to withdraw the research paper and, using correct data and correct pictures, to prove once again the paper is right."

Okokata has been charged with fabricating the images that were published in the research papers. He has recognized the errors, but said that they were not intended.

"I sincerely apologize for the confusion, concern, and doubts raised over the papers," Sasai said at a news conference, adding that he was recommending that the research be retracted.

At the same time, he said that the research was still promising, and that some of what was discovered does point to a new kind of stem cell.

Sasai said he became a part of the project toward the end of the research and that his main job was to edit and revise the papers prior to publishing, but that he did not have access to the raw data that was used in the research.

A retraction has been opposed by Obokata and another co-author, Charles Vacanti, of Harvard Medical School.

The Riken Center said it has assigned an investigative team to test the results of the next year to see if there is any validity to the research.

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