Harvard scholar who co-authored STAP papers says cells undoubtedly exist


Harvard University professor Charles Vacanti says STAP cells able to develop into various tissue undoubtedly exist.

Vacanti, co-author of two Nature articles at the center of a worldwide controversy, made the remark at an international academic meeting in Kyoto on Tuesday, according to participants at the event.

At Harvard, Vacanti taught Haruko Obokata, the lead author of the two articles who faces allegations of misconduct over her STAP cell research, such as image fabrication and manipulation.

Obokata wrote the papers as a researcher at Riken, a government-backed research institute. STAP stands for stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency.

Vacanti backed the existence of STAP cells in a speech on regenerative medicine and stem cells at the joint meeting of the World Association for Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology and the International Bronchoesophagological Society, participants said.

The host of the meeting said it asked Vacanti to make a speech more than a year before the event, according to a press release posted on the host’s website. The organization that Vacanti works for approved the speech on condition that he would avoid commenting on STAP cells, the press release said.