A Japanese scientist involved in the stem cell study, which many hailed as a “game-changer,” has expressed his desire to retract his research. The research was published in the highly regarded science journal Nature, and was considered a major breakthrough that would usher a new era in medical biology when it came out.
Teruhiko Wakayama, a professor at the University of Yamanashi and a member of the research team that studied stem cells, described their discovery now as doubtful. “It is no longer clear what is right,” he said. When the study came out, it described a simple method to reprogram mature animal cells to a younger version. Its embryonic-like state would make it feasible for the cell to generate different kinds of tissue. The results seemed to show a way to reprogram human cells in the future without any complex processes and expensive methods into Stimulus-Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency (STAP) cells, which could be used to replace and heal damaged cells or organs for sick people.
Wakayama felt at that time that his experiment was correct. This time, he doubts the accuracy of the experiment saying, “But now that many mistakes have emerged, I think it is best to withdraw the research paper once and, using correct data and correct pictures, to prove once again the paper is right. If it turns out to be wrong, we would need to make it clear why a thing like this happened.” An official from the journal Nature has confirmed that certain “issues relating to the paper” are being looked at by the publication.
Meanwhile, Robin Lovell-Badge, a stem cell expert at Britain’s National Institute for Medical Research remains positive on the research. Lovell-Badge is keeping “an open mind” on the issue and was said to be waiting for other stem cell labs from other countries to see if they can replicate the method. Researchers from Harvard Medical school, Brigham and Women’s Hospital along with other Japanese scientists have taken skin and blood cells to be subjected to stress “almost to the point of death” with the use of trauma, low oxygen levels and acidic environments. Cells placed under an acidic solution seemed to have survived and returned to a state, which resembles embryonic stem cell. However, other experiments were unable to reproduce the same results. This prompted the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan to investigate the contents of the paper with the help of experts working in and outside the center to validate the research.
[via CBS News]