Last month we wrote that Haruko Obokata, the Japanese stem cell researcher whose work is under a cloud of suspicion, had agreed to call for the retraction of one of two disputed Nature papers about her findings. Now Reuters is reporting that Obokata will ask for the second article to be pulled, as well (one of the articles was a research letter).
According to the Reuters account:
After staunchly defending her work in a rare, months-long public feud with the prominent Riken institute she works for, Haruko Obokata “has now agreed to a retraction” of the papers, a spokesman for the semi-governmental institute told Reuters on Wednesday.
One of the co-authors of the articles, which came out in January, already has requested that both papers be retracted. So far, Nature has yet to remove either article.
In our paper entitled; “The Potential of Stem Cells in Adult Tissues Representative of the Three Germ Layers”, published in the journal, Part A Volume 17, Numbers 5 and 6, 2011, some errors have been identified in the figures published. Some very similar appearing PCR bands displayed in Figure 3, are incorrectly placed or redundantly used, either within Figure 3 or between Figures 2 and 3. … The remaining data and the conclusion are unchanged.
Some criticized that notice for being, well, unsatisfactory.
The Japan Times also is reporting that Obokata has agreed to help conduct additional experiments to see if STAP stem cells are real.
On Monday, the chairman of an outside panel to Riken said it is arranging to call on the lab to have the 30-year-old scientist participate in its experiment.
The panel chairman, Teruo Kishi, said the move is needed in order to determine whether STAP, or stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency cells, exist or not.
If the new experiment is unable to reproduce STAP cells using the same method outlined in Obokata’s controversial paper, then it should be considered that they do not exist, Kishi said.