January 21, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

STAP cells

2 min read

Retraction Watch broke the news that Haruko Obokata of the STAP cell train wreck now has a 4th paper retraction. The publication related to the controversial idea that adult tissues have pluripotent potential or actual pluripotent stem cells in them so it was kind of foundational for the debunked STAP cell idea. It also reminds me of VSELs and MUSE cells too, which people to this day still publish about without much attention. There could be some retractions related to VSELs and MUSE cells …Read More

3 min read

Once upon a time this blog and major outlets around the world were regularly writing about a Japanese stem cell researcher named Haruko Obokata (小保方 晴子). Whatever happened to Obokata and the other folks directly involved in STAP cell research? First, a bit of background because maybe still a few people never heard of STAP cells and Obokata or forgot the key points behind the controversy. Haruko Obokata became well known because of her research claiming to make pluripotent stem cells like IPS cells without …Read More

4 min read

Something very strange just happened at the journal Nature related to what’s called Muse cells. Kudos to them for dealing with it quickly though. They published an unreviewed research “article” on controversial (perhaps non-existent) stem cells called “Muse cells” that was actually a paid advertisement. After I communicated with the Nature team eventually they ended up pulling down the ad/article as of today. How can a research article be an advertisement? I don’t think it should be possible. An “ad/article”? Of course, research journals run …Read More

2 min read

Haruko Obokata was reportedly questioned by police in Japan today. The questioning relates to the STAP cell scandal that led to the retraction of two Nature papers. As first author of the papers, Obokata and other authors had reported that they could make IPSC-like cells simply via acid or other stress treatment. However, it is now widely believed that the supposed STAP cells were in actuality ES cells (or ES cells mixed with other cell types), and there has been some question over whether …Read More

1 min read

Haruko Obokata wrote a book about the STAP cell scandal telling it from her perspective. Fom all accounts I’ve seen, she has sought in her writings to shift the blame away from herself. She even claimed she was framed by other scientists. To say I’m skeptical would be an understatement. Will this book have any impact? Many scientists thought it would make a splash and then fade away. Not so, at least so far. At present Obokata’s book is the #1 best-selling book on …Read More

1 min read

Haruko Obokata reportedtly has written a book that is somewhat of a memoir of her life including the STAP cell scandal. The exact nature of the book remains mostly a mystery at this point. It should be out on the 2nd anniversary of the STAP cell papers being published. Kyodo News gives some more details now: “The 253-page book, titled “Anohi” (That Day), will hit the bookstore shelves Thursday. It will be the first time she has offered a lengthy explanation on the issue …Read More

1 min read

Media in Japan are reporting that Waseda University will shortly revoke the Ph.D. of STAP cell scientist Haruko Obokata (小保方 晴子). A hat tip to blog reader Tom on this story. The thesis contained plagiarized material and problematic data as did the Nature papers on which she was first author. Those papers were retracted and now apparently her thesis will essentially find the same fate. Obokata had been given 1 year to correct her thesis, a potentially impossible task, and Japan TImes quotes a …Read More

2 min read

The publication yesterday of two papers refuting the existence of so-called STAP cells marches us closer as a field toward closure on this unfortunate situation. Close, but not quite there. We know a lot more about what went happened, but 5 key questions remain. There is a chance that we may never get answers to some or even all of these questions, but without more information STAP will remain not entirely resolved. It will be harder for the field to learn from it and …Read More

6 min read

Today marks nearing the completion of a full circle for one of science’s biggest controversies: the STAP cell fiasco. Today STAP cells are completely refuted with the publication of two new papers in Nature and we know much more–with some notable gaps still–about what went wrong. In January of last year, an international team of collaborators from RIKEN in Japan and Harvard/Brigham & Women’s Hospital (including the lab of Charles Vacanti where the STAP idea reportedly originated) here in the US published two Nature …Read More

5 min read

It seems hard to believe it was a year ago that the STAP cell Nature papers came out to much fanfare on January 29, 2014. These now discredited and retracted papers reported a supposed new method to easily make reprogrammed powerful stem cells, a finding touted as a Nobel Prize-worthy discovery. Now a year later on January 29, 2015 the STAP finding has been thoroughly repudiated,  one author Haruko Obokata has resigned after her own institute found her guilty of misconduct and she couldn’t make STAP …Read More