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Nature to pull Riken stem cell papers

Kyodo

The British science journal Nature will soon retract two Japanese papers on stem cells in light of a series of misconduct allegations surrounding the research, sources said Monday.

When Nature published the papers in January, the findings were considered groundbreaking, with lead author Haruko Obokata of the Riken research institute claiming to have successfully produced cells with “stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency,” which allowed them develop into any type of tissue.

Research on the so-called STAP cells will go back to square one once Nature retracts the papers. But they will probably continue to be displayed online, accompanied by an explanation of why they were retracted, the sources said.

Riken, which is affiliated with the government, has been conducting tests to verify whether STAP cells can be produced. An interim report on the findings is expected in late July or early August.

After doubts emerged about the papers, Riken’s investigation panel, in a report issued April 1, judged that Obokata falsified images in one of them and recommended that she retract it.