August 8, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

STAP cell 2.0? New stem cell paper controversy ready to erupt

STAP2.0, STAP cells.

Did you eventually get sick of the whole STAP mess and all the baggage that came with it?

Stay tuned for STAP 2.0 or perhaps I should say STAP junior.

Just as STAP is starting to fade a bit from our radar screens, there is unfortunately a new very problematic stem cell paper situation coming soon that has some parallels to the STAP cell fiasco.

As this new STAP junior mess inevitably marches toward blowing up sometime in the next few months in the public domain, should we be asking ourselves what’s the best way for the field to handle this new mess and other future large-scale messes?

In this new situation, not yet publicly revealed, there are some very serious issues invoked and some of these seem (at least preliminarily) to be similar to STAP. The potential commonalities include unusual stem cell claims and published papers with arguably very fundamental problems. In other ways, it is quite different.

I don’t expect this new stem cell publishing mess to be as epically bad as STAP in a general sense given various circumstances, but it won’t be a picnic either.

How should the field deal with this and more more importantly future such controversies? Is there anything that can be learned from STAP to help here?

Is the assertive, open approach at a scientific level that generally was applied to STAP the best one overall?

I wonder if STAP has made us more wary of big or unusual claims and made us more skeptical. I also wonder how the field will handle new messes such as this new one that is bubbling under the surface at the moment.

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