Two stem cell papers published by a team of Japanese and U.S. scientists in the influential journal Nature have been officially retracted due to "several critical errors," the journal said on Wednesday.

The research was described as game-changing by many experts in the field when it was published in January. However, it was subsequently investigated by the Japanese government-affiliated Riken institute, which "categorized some of the errors as misconduct," Nature said.

The two papers, led at Riken by Haruko Obokata, 30, detailed simple ways to reprogram mature animal cells back to an embryonic-like state, allowing them to generate many different types of cells — suggesting hope for a way of replacing damaged cells or growing new organs in humans.