One of the world’s leading stem cell experts has suggested withdrawing a study that made global headlines last January, saying he has questions about some of the images and data in it.
The Japanese team, led by Teruhiko Wakayama, reported that they had created powerful stem cells by doing little more than soaking ordinary cells in an acid solution.
The report, published in the journal Nature, impressed other stem cell researchers and opened the possibility of an easy approach to regenerative medicine. But Japanese television quotes Wakayama as saying he wants to take a closer look.
"When conducting the experiment, I believed it was absolutely right,” Reuters news agency quotes Wakayama as telling the television station NHK.
"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," he said.
"If it turns out to be wrong, we would need to make it clear why a thing like this happened."
But Charles Vacanti of Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, who helped work on the study, said he disagreed. "Some mistakes were made, but they don't affect the conclusions," the Wall Street Journal quoted him as saying.
"Based on the information I have, I see no reason why these papers should be retracted."
Stem cell researchers may be more sensitive than other scientists. In 2006, Seoul National University fired Hwang Woo-Suk after the journal Science retracted two papers he wrote claiming to have cloned human embryos and extracted stem cells from them.
Nature says it's reviewing the paper, and posted a news blog about Wakayama's comments.
First published March 10 2014, 3:14 PM
Maggie Fox is senior health writer for NBCNews.com and TODAY.com, writing top news on health policy, medical treatments and disease.
She's a former managing editor for healthcare and technology at National Journal and global health and science editor for Reuters based in Washington, D.C. and London.
She's reported for news agencies, radio, newspapers, magazines and television from across Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe covering news ranging from war to politics and, of course, health and science. Her reporting has taken Maggie to Lebanon, Syria and Libya; to China, South Korea, Thailand, the Philippines and Pakistan; to Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia and to Ireland and Northern Ireland and across the rest of Europe.
Maggie has won awards from the Society of Business Editors and Writers, the National Immunization Program, the Overseas Press Club and other organizations. She's done fellowships at Harvard Medical School, the National Institutes of Health and the University of Maryland.