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.

13 thoughts on “STAP cell 2.0? New stem cell paper controversy ready to erupt”

  1. An uninformed internet citizen

    Hey Paul, I am sure you are waiting for the dust to settle, but I think it would be super beneficial for someone like you to distill what has been going on at pubpeer for the general public.

    It is so hard to know whether we are witnessing silly infighting that has no fraud and is only attempting to damage reputations or if we are actually observing a large shake up in the stem cell field. Your thoughts would be much appreciated

    1. Yeah, I agree.
      I’ve been thinking on the best way to discuss the heated situation and provide some thoughts that would be useful and not make things worse. It’s tricky, but I’m working on it…

  2. bostonstemcellscientist

    are you talking about Jacob Hanna’s paper? There’s been much controversy about the irreproducibility of his naive human ES cell papers.

  3. With STAP 1.0 a major journal was involved. I would assume that journal is asking itself some serious questions about its editorial and peer review processes because it was this fact which gave some credibility to the claims. If this is also broadly the case with STAP 2.0 there are serious issues to be considered on publication /review processes by the publications and by the field. If its lower tier journals, given the proliferation of online options etc where standards are yet to be established it may not be the field that is the problem. However, as researchers we should never forget the end aim of what we do is to use stem cells to benefit patients and with that comes a responsibility that involves transparency, honesty, certainty about our methods and results etc. If we mislead, over hype etc its at the long term peril of the Public benefit and confidence in the field. Therefore it may be the field which needs to set standards and that comes in the way we review material. Better to put our house in order than to have it put in order for us.

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