Dramatic retraction adds to questions about stem cell research

Researchers admit mistakes and question whether STAP cells exist

11:36am, July 7, 2014

SEEING DOUBLE  Scientists now doubt their own earlier claims about an easy method to make stem cells. Among the errors identified in their papers were two pictures of a single embryo created from STAP cells (green) that had been represented as depictions of two different embryos (large image with placenta, inset without placenta). 

Rising doubts about easy-to-make stem cells have hit a crescendo: The researchers who claimed to have discovered STAP cells have pulled their papers from the journal Nature. The scientists say that mistakes in the work now make them question the existence of such cells. The original publication described making STAP stem cells simply by stressing mature cells with a squeeze or with a brief plunge in acid.

Other scientists worry that the combination of early enthusiasm about the papers quickly followed by revelations of misconduct will mar the reputation of stem cell research.

“We apologize for the mistakes,” the team of STAP cell researchers writes in the July 3 Nature. “These multiple errors impair the credibility of the study as a whole and we are unable to say without doubt whether the [STAP cell] phenomenon is real.”

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