January 18, 2021

The Niche

Trusted stem cell blog & resources

Teruhiko Wakayama

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

A great new piece in The New Yorker by Dana Goodyear, The Stress Test, gives us a window into Charles Vacanti’s side of the STAP cell mess and includes recent quotes from him. It’s a long, fascinating look inside of STAP, the tangled and ultimately tragic scientific implosion that created and then brought down two Nature papers and some careers. The most notable part of the article is that the stem cell community finally hears from Vacanti, postdoc mentor of lead author Haruko Obokata. We …Read More

1 min read

The Japan Times has the first detailed account in English about Haruko Obokata’s new book, “That Day”. HT to blog reader Shinsakan. (update: another helpful piece on this from the WSJ). In the book, Obokata (who was widely blamed for the STAP cell fiasco) seeks to shift the blame to others according to the paper. Obokata’s book just came out and you can see more details here. According The Japan Times, in the book Obokata largely blames one of her mentors Teruhiko Wakayama for …Read More

3 min read

The Japanese research institute RIKEN has come full circle in a way on the STAP cell scandal. Note that the STAP papers included not only authors from RIKEN, but also from Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. With its final report released today (also a powerpoint of images were released including the one showing a figure posted here of reportedly made up data published in a STAP paper), RIKEN seems to now have handled this complicated mess in a relatively rigorous, scientific manner that …Read More

2 min read

When I asked the readers of this blog what they felt was the biggest stem cell story of 2014 in a poll, they overwhelmingly picked the STAP cell scandal. For background on STAP you can toggle through the many STAP cell pieces on this blog here, see a STAP timeline, and a STAP image gallery. Basically, STAP was a bogus scientific claim about a supposedly simple reprogramming method to make powerful stem cells induced by cellular stress. Despite many flaws in this STAP research and the …Read More

3 min read

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

2 min read

The reviews of a STAP paper submitted to and rejected by the journal Science in 2012 were posted at Retraction Watch yesterday. They filled in some gaps in the puzzle of the series of events that led to such flawed science being published in Nature in January 2014, but the reviews also raised more questions. Today, more STAP paper reviews have surfaced. ScienceInsider posted a piece with additional STAP paper reviews with these coming from Nature reviewers commenting on what would later become accepted and published by Nature only months later …Read More

4 min read

Before the two STAP cell papers were published in Nature in January of 2014, much of the same data was reportedly submitted as single papers to other high-profile journals including Science. In these cases, the proto-STAP papers as we might call them were rejected. But why? Until now we largely could only speculate. However, the reviews of the 2012 proto-STAP manuscript at Science can now be read at Retraction Watch. As a result of reading the Science reviews, today we know what the reviewers at Science thought …Read More

2 min read

Nikkei is reporting that the RIKEN internal attempt to replicate so-called STAP (acid bath) cells has failed. Update: apparently, although RIKEN calls the efforts preliminary, the team tried to make STAP an amazing 22 times and 22 times it failed. The rumors for weeks in the stem cell gapevine that RIKEN itself could not get STAP to work, even with the help of Dr. Haruko Obokata, have been confirmed by Nikkei. Obokata was first author on both Nature STAP papers, which were retracted. One of …Read More