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Investigation into stem cell research claims finds scientific misconduct by researcher and lack of supervision by coauthors

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2563 (Published 03 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2563
  1. Nigel Hawkes
  1. 1London

Claims of a quick and easy way to make stem cells have been dashed after an investigation found scientific misconduct in the research, blaming a young researcher’s lack of experience and a failure of effective supervision by her coauthors.

The study,1 which created worldwide headlines when published in Nature, may now have to be retracted. It reported that immersing adult mouse cells in a bath of weak acid triggered a return to pluripotency—the condition found in embryonic cells that confers the ability to differentiate into any kind of specialised cell.

Haruko Obokata, a 30 year old researcher at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan, bore most of the responsibility, said an internal investigation by the centre that was prompted …

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