Stem Cell Scientists Guilty of Misconduct, Panel Rules
The studies reported that the new method for making stem cells was used to create an entire mouse fetus.
Credit: Haruko Obokata

A biologist in Japan who recently reported a relatively fast and easy method for creating embryonic stem cells has been found guilty of scientific misconduct, a committee announced today (April 1), NPR reported.

Haruko Obokata, of the RIKEN Centers for Developmental Biology in Japan, authored two studies published in January in the journal Nature detailing a new way to produce stem cells, which are cells that have the potential to develop into many kinds of tissue, by exposing them to a mildly acidic environment.

The RIKEN Center began investigating claims of possible fraud in March, and the investigative panel now says it has found six errors in the studies, including four innocent mistakes, and two that involved intentionally manipulating data, Nature reported.

"Actions like this completely destroy data credibility," molecular biologist Shunsuke Ishii, chairman of the investigating committee, said at a news conference Tuesday in Tokyo.

Obokata claims the errors were all made innocently, and plans to appeal the panel's judgement.

The journal Nature is still investigating the studies, and has not yet retracted them.

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