October 19, 2020

The Niche

Knoepfler lab stem cell blog

Haruko Obokata (小保方 晴子) website posts dubious STAP cell validation data

Haruko Obokata is most well-known for her role as first author of the now retracted two STAP cell Nature papers. These manuscripts claimed to have made pluripotent and even totipotent stem cells simply by stressing cells out with acid treatment or in other ways. Nobody else could get this method to work to create the so-called STAP cells.

It was an all around scientific disaster and I don’t know anyone who believes that STAP cells are real, but Obokata and another one of her mentors, Dr. Charles Vacanti have still at times indicated their belief in STAP.

STAP cell Obokata 2016
Screenshot from STAP Hope website

Obokata appears to have launched a new website at the end of March of this year and there was a sense that this site along with her memoir-like book would together tell her side of the story plus might continue to push the notion that STAP is real. Update: it is formally possible that Obokata is not running this website so I have made a few change to this post.

There are now posted data on a page on the website called, “Results of the STAP verification experiment” claiming to support the idea that STAP is real.

The data are very unconvincing.

For instance the qPCR has no error bars and no negative control cell sample, and images of supposed STAP cell clusters (above) don’t really tell us much of anything.

I guess the stars at the top are supposed to indicate how strongly she feels that a particular sample was validated. Is that rigorous?

Another question is the source of this data.

I don’t think this will convince anyone of anything.

HT to reader Takeyoshi.

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