Friday, March 14, 2014

Too good to be true: STAP edition

Oh dear. It turns out that the STAP paper is probably best categorized as "too good to be true."
The Riken national research institute acknowledged March 14 it was sloppy in its presentation of images in a groundbreaking pair of papers on stem cells, but said it was premature to decide on withdrawing the reports that first appeared in the prestigious Nature magazine in January.
Irregularities in the images raised doubts about the veracity of the research as scientists around the world said they were unable to replicate the findings.
However, Riken officials stated there was no malicious intent and thus it was too early to conclude that the research on a mechanism called "stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency" (STAP), which startled the scientific community, was flawed.
Although the scientists who were involved in the writing of the research papers said they were considering withdrawing the articles from the British journal, Riken officials at a March 14 news conference in Tokyo only said that further investigation was needed before any decision could be made.
 Sources said that Obokata and other researchers affiliated with Riken had indicated they would give their approval to withdraw the Nature articles. Normally, the consent of all authors in an article is required to withdraw published articles.
However, Charles Vacanti, the Harvard University professor who supervised Obokata when she studied there, continues to insist there is no need to withdraw the articles.

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