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11 Mar 2014 15:57

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RIKEN must unveil investigation results early

Atsushi Miyazaki / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer RIKEN, the country's leading science and technology research institution, has been far too slow in releasing the results of its investigation into trailblazing research on stimulus-triggered acquisition pluripotency (STAP) cells.

Some researchers have pointed out that the pictures and quotations in papers on STAP cells were suspect.

As doubts raised about the research could affect the institute’s international credibility, it should unveil the results of its investigation as early as possible.

It is possible that STAP cells were actually created by the international research team led by Haruko Obokata, who belongs to RIKEN.

However, as critics have pointed out, if researchers working on the cells reused the images carried earlier in different articles in the papers, it cannot help but draw criticism that the research papers were the product of slipshod work.

One of the coauthors has called for the papers to be withdrawn. But for that to happen, approval would be needed from all 14 coauthors, including researchers at Harvard University and other institutes.

RIKEN has said the problems raised would not affect the essence of the research. It said it would handle the issue by modifying the images and descriptions in question.

However, if the papers were withdrawn, STAP cells would have to be created again, with a stricter verification process in place.

Since the papers were published, RIKEN has not held a press conference to respond to questions on the articles.