'Phony' stem cell research scientist to be punished in Japan

April 1, 2014
Haruko Obokata, Riken institute's lead researcher, at a press conference at the Riken center in Kobe in Hyogo prefecture on January 28, 2014

A Japanese research institute said Tuesday it will punish a young female scientist after a probe found a ground-breaking study on the production of stem cells was fabricated.

Riken institute head, Ryoji Noyori, who jointly won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2001, said in a statement he will "rigorously punish relevant people after procedures in a disciplinary committee."

The punishment is expected to be meted out to lead researcher Haruko Obokata and her more experienced colleagues.

The move is a huge blow to what was touted as a game-changing discovery, published by 30-year-old Obokata along with other Japanese researchers and a US-based scientist in the January edition of British journal Nature.

The study outlined a relatively simple way to grow transplant tissue in the lab by converting regular adult cells into a kind of stem cell—a cell that has the potential to become differentiated into the various specialised cells that make up the brain, heart, kidneys and other organs.

But it faced questions after the respected institute, which sponsored the study, launched an inquiry last month over the credibility of its data.

Among key concerns was that researchers used erroneous images—crucial to supporting the study—which resembled those used in Obokata's doctoral dissertation in 2011.

Riken institute head Ryoji Noyori listens to questions during a press conference in Tokyo on March 14, 2014

This "amounts to phony research or fabrication," Shunsuke Ishii, head of Riken's probe committee told a press conference Tuesday.

But Obokata hit back, saying she was surprised and angry about the findings.

"I will file a complaint against Riken as it's absolutely impossible for me to accept this," she said Tuesday in a statement.

The study had been billed as the third great advance in —a field that aims to reverse Alzheimer's, cancer and other crippling or lethal diseases.

It took a big hit last month after Teruhiko Wakayama, a Yamanashi University professor who co-authored the article, called for a retraction.

Nature has said it has launched its own investigation.

Explore further: Japan institute says 'landmark' cell study should be quashed (Update)

Related Stories

Japan institute says 'landmark' cell study should be quashed (Update)

March 14, 2014
A Japanese research institute said Friday that a study which promised a revolutionary way to create stem cells should be quashed after claims its data was faulty, dealing a huge blow to what was touted as a game-changing ...

Japan stem cell scientist calls for retraction of study (Update)

March 11, 2014
A co-author of a Japanese study that promised a revolutionary way to create stem cells has called for the headline-grabbing research to be retracted over claims its data was faulty.

Japan lab says stem cell research falsified (Update 3)

April 1, 2014
The finding that a lead researcher falsified data in a widely heralded stem-cell research paper is a setback for Japan's efforts to promote its advanced research, but also a symptom of the pressure for breakthroughs in the ...

New simple way to reset cells could be transplant "game changer"

January 29, 2014
Scientists Wednesday reported a simple way to turn animal cells back to a youthful, neutral state, a feat hailed as a "game-changer" in the quest to grow transplant tissue in the lab.

Recommended for you

Forces from fluid in the developing lung play an essential role in organ development

January 23, 2018
It is a marvel of nature: during gestation, multiple tissue types cooperate in building the elegantly functional structures of organs, from the brain's folds to the heart's multiple chambers. A recent study by Princeton researchers ...

More surprises about blood development—and a possible lead for making lymphocytes

January 22, 2018
Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) have long been regarded as the granddaddy of all blood cells. After we are born, these multipotent cells give rise to all our cell lineages: lymphoid, myeloid and erythroid cells. Hematologists ...

How metal scaffolds enhance the bone healing process

January 22, 2018
A new study shows how mechanically optimized constructs known as titanium-mesh scaffolds can optimize bone regeneration. The induction of bone regeneration is of importance when treating large bone defects. As demonstrated ...

Researchers illustrate how muscle growth inhibitor is activated, could aid in treating ALS

January 19, 2018
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati (UC) College of Medicine are part of an international team that has identified how the inactive or latent form of GDF8, a signaling protein also known as myostatin responsible for ...

Bioengineered soft microfibers improve T-cell production

January 18, 2018
T cells play a key role in the body's immune response against pathogens. As a new class of therapeutic approaches, T cells are being harnessed to fight cancer, promising more precise, longer-lasting mitigation than traditional, ...

Weight flux alters molecular profile, study finds

January 17, 2018
The human body undergoes dramatic changes during even short periods of weight gain and loss, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.