Nature STAP stem cell studies retracted after more errors found

Following months of controversy, editors at the scientific journal Nature have retracted two high-profile studies that purported to demonstrate a quick and simple way of making flexible stem cells without destroying embryos or tinkering with DNA.

Several critical errors have been found in our Article and Letter, Nature wrote in a retraction statement issued Wednesday. We apologize for the mistakes.



July 3, 7:53 a.m.: An article in the July 3 A section about two controversial stem cell studies that were retracted had stated that the decision was made by editors at the journal Nature. The retraction decision was made by the authors of the studies. Additionally, the comments in the retraction statement should have been attributed to the authors of the studies, not to the journal editors.


The two reports described a new way of reprogramming blood cells so that they would revert to a developmentally primitive state and be capable of growing into any type of cell. Researchers from Japan and the United States said they accomplished this feat by soaking the cells in an acid bath for 30 minutes and then spinning them in a centrifuge for 5 minutes.

The resulting stem cells dubbed stimulus triggered acquisition of pluripotency, or STAP had the hallmarks of embryonic stem cells. When the researchers injected them into developing mice, the STAP stem cells grew into heart, bone and brain cells, among others, the research team reported in January.

Scientists in the field of regenerative medicine were giddy at the prospect of using the cells to grow new insulin-producing cells for people with Type 1 diabetes or central nervous system cells for people with spinal cord injuries, to name a few examples. Since these replacement tissues would be generated from a patients own cells, researchers believed they would not prompt the immune system to attack, eliminating the need for patients to take immune-suppressing drugs.

But it didnt take long for some researchers to suspect that STAP stem cells were too good to be true. Critiques posted online gained more currency when labs began reporting that they werent able to replicate the experiments. Then one of the senior researchers who worked on both of the studies called for the papers to be withdrawn until the results could be independently verified.

Nature STAP stem cell studies retracted after more errors found

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