The STAP cell mess that began in January of this year has in some ways quieted down. In a broader sense, I believe that STAP is now and will be in the future viewed as a scandal that revealed some less than ideal aspects to the world of biomedical science and publishing. Where does this all stand today? A New STAP-Like Paper? The most recent development is the publication of a new paper pointed out by a number of people to me as perhaps STAP-like. …Read More
A paper has been published reporting that repeated attempts to make so-called “acid bath stem cells” have failed. At the end of January it was claimed in two Nature papers that a mild acid treatment created pluripotent or even totipotent stem cells that that the authors termed “STAP cells” or “STAP stem cells” (collectively referred to here as “STAP cells” in this post). I reviewed the papers here on the blog when they came out and raised key questions about them. Since that time …Read More
Whether STAP cells are real or baloney, much went wrong with the actual STAP cell Nature papers and the research reported in them by Obokata and her co-authors. Who is responsible for these two deeply flawed papers? I’m not sure we have enough information at this time to know definitively how responsibility/blame should be apportioned, but first author Dr. Haruko Obokata has so far received the lion’s share of the blame. Is that just? Her institution RIKEN seems to be placing almost all of the …Read More
What’s up with STAP cells? Do people belief in them or not? Our STAP poll #8 polling results on STAP are in with more than 1000 respondents. The poll question was “Do you believe in STAP cells?” I will start STAP poll #9 soon. The poll #8 results remain about the same but there has been a slight shift toward more people indicating they are at least leaning positive. Again, recall that this polling is not scientific.
The ultimate fate of the two Nature STAP cell papers remains in troubled limbo. One of the senior STAP cell authors, Dr. Sasai, held a news conference yesterday in Japan that included a call for the papers to be retracted. He was variously quoted as believing in STAP cells or alternatively as just thinking it was an unproven hypothesis. Whether STAP cells or STAP stem cells are real or not, overall the STAP cell situation has been disastrous. Can biomedical science learn anything from this …Read More
Since the STAP Nature papers were published, I’ve been doing a non-scientific Internet poll on the general level of “belief” in STAP. Poll #7 has now closed with 930 votes and a fairly steady level of skepticism for the last month or so. Poll#7 results from amongst Japanese respondents (7J) shows almost nobody in Japan has any positive feelings about STAP anymore. Note that at the beginning of polling, Japanese respondents were disproportionately more positive about STAP. Poll #8 will start soon. It’ll be …Read More
Dr. Haruko Obokata held a news conference today in Japan about the STAP cell controversy. It was very painful to watch. I’m a softy so at moments I felt somewhat sad for her as I watched, but as a scientist I have to say the STAP situation has been very bad for the stem cell field. And I’m also pretty sure that this press conference did not do the stem cell field or anyone else any good including Obokata. She first read from a …Read More
Very small embryonic-like stem cells aka VSELs are reported to be tiny adult stem cells that are pluripotent or non-existent depending on whom you talk to most recently or which paper you just read. These very controversial cells (which I once compared to the Sasquatch) have a wildly fluctuating history with their existence on multiple occasions apparently being proven and then later disproven. The latter fate of them being not existing was most recently shown rather convincingly by Irv Weissman’s lab and the former fate …Read More