A Japanese team announced Friday in Tokyo that it has been unable to reproduce a new, astoundingly simple way of generating pluripotent stem cells, despite working directly with the lead author on the Nature papers reporting the breakthrough method. That researcher, Haruko Obokata, also today resigned from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) in Kobe, home of most of the team conducting the research.
Despite an 8 month effort, "We could not verify the STAP cell phenomenon," Shinichi Aizawa, a CDB developmental biologist who led the verification team, said at a press conference, referring to the co-called stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) method. He added that RIKEN was halting efforts to verify the STAP approach.
"I remain very puzzled by these results," Obokata wrote in a statement released to the press. She admitted being unable to reproduce satisfactory results, though she complained about the conditions under which she had to try. (Documents from the press conference are available in Japanese here.)
The announcement was not a surprise. The STAP team, which included researchers at other institutions in Japan and at Brigham and Women's Hospital (BWH) in Boston, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, grabbed headlines with its claim that briefly bathing adult cells in an acidic solution could produce stem cells capable of developing into all of the cell types in a mammalian body. Previous methods of creating stem cells involve complex and challenging laboratory techniques. The method was described in an article and a letter published online at Nature on 29 January....Continue Reading »