MOSCOW, August 27 (RIA Novosti) — Scientists at the RIKEN research institute in Japan have been unable to verify the discovery of a groundbreaking new method of creating "stem cells," Nikkei Asian Review reported Wednesday.
“The struggle to verify the results of research published by Haruko Obokata and colleagues earlier this year casts further doubt on the existence of stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency, or STAP, the phenomenon they described. Exposing ordinary body cells to various stresses had made them pluripotent, or able to differentiate into any type of tissue, the authors had claimed,” the newspaper writes.
The report states that scientists have so far been unable to recreate STAP cells. Researchers have conducted 22 experiments, none of which have been successful.
Using Obokata’s methods, researchers have only been able to produce faint genetic markers of pluripotency, Nikkei reports, citing sources familiar with the experiments.
A study describing the creation of so-called STAP cells was initially published in the acclaimed scientific journal Nature in January this year. Amid falsification claims, the RIKEN institute, where Obokata is based, announced a month later that it would investigate her discoveries.
“I am profoundly apologetic that the reports of STAP reprogramming have led to the current serious concerns about the integrity and reliability of this research,” Masatoshi Takeichi, director of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, wrote in a statement.
Takeichi urged the scientists to retract their publication in Nature. Obokata agreed to retract the paper in July. In August, co-author of the study, stem cell scientist Yoshiki Sasai, committed suicide at the institute.
RIKEN is expected to hold a press conference Wednesday, in which several leading officials, including Masatoshi Takeichi, are expected to be replaced. The institute is expected to be renamed and have its staff of about 400 researchers cut in half, Nikkei writes.