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Year in review: Easy stem cells a no go

STAP cell papers raise publishing issues

6:00am, December 16, 2014
mouse fetus

STEM CELL TAKE BACK  A study claiming to have grown a mouse fetus with simple stem cells was retracted after scientists couldn’t replicate the work.


An incredibly easy method for making stem cells turned out to be too good to be true, again tainting stem cell research with controversy and stirring up disquiet over some scientific publishing policies.

In January, scientists claimed to have made ultraflexible stem cells, known as STAP cells, by dipping mature cells into acid or by putting the cells under gentle pressure (SN: 2/22/14, p. 6). Had it worked, stem cell production could have been a breeze instead of a meticulous endeavor. But within weeks it was clear that STAP cells were not as easy to make as claimed (

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