Now that it appears that the authors have all consented to eventually have both of their STAP cell Nature papers retracted, what’s next for STAP?
Who knows, but below is my attempt at a top 10 list of STAP predictions looking ahead. I hope I’m wrong about several of them.
- 10. No insight will come from Nature on the STAP review or editorial process and there will be no indication from them that anything went wrong at their level. I predict the journal will never open up about the editorial and review process behind the STAP debacle. If the papers are finally retracted (keep in mind that they have not yet been actually retracted) by authors as seems most likely at this point, I figure that for Nature that will be the end of the story. I hope I’m wrong.
- 9. Obokata does not sue RIKEN. She and the institution make a private agreement/settlement (perhaps already a done deal given how things are shaping up with her rejoining the STAP validation team at RIKEN).
- 8. STAP patent gets approved. Despite all the problems with the STAP scientific story, the US Patent Office approves the STAP cell patent anyway. Crazy, huh?
- 7. Someone somewhere claims to get STAP to work, but the data are very weak.
- 6. No news from Brigham and Women’s or Harvard Medical School regarding any potential institutional reactions related to STAP at least until 2015 and perhaps never.
- 5. At least one person leaves RIKEN related to STAP. This happens either because of their links to STAP or conversely because they find the whole thing too ugly to bear.
- 4. More retractions or corrections of other papers from at least one or more of the STAP paper authors.
- 3. More top tier journal stem cell paper problems unrelated to STAP, despite STAP as a potential learning experience. Few lessons will be learned from STAP at the stem cell publication level. One or more likely more stem cell papers in a high-impact, top tier journal will have serious problems (e.g. be retracted, be on a possible path to retraction, have major data manipulation, etc.) in the next 12 months.
- 2. No convincing reports published in 2014 that STAP cells, as they were portrayed in the Nature articles, really exist.
- 1. No imminent Obokata departure. Obokata stay at RIKEN at least through the end of 2014. There may even be rumors that she can help the RIKEN team get STAP to work again.