The Nippon Research Institute of Riken acknowledged today that the last and revolutionary study on stem cells, led by scientist Haruko Obokata, published by the journal «Nature» contained «fraudulent» parts.
The study, published in January in two articles that were picked up by «Nature», showed a very simple method to reprogram adult cells (immersing them in an acid or by applying pressure on their membranes) and obtain stem cells, with the ability to become any tissue.
Although the great find would simplify the process to obtain these cells (which may constitute the future of regenerative medicine) many researchers began to report, after the publication, the use of duplicate images to document items and the inability to replicate the results of the study.
The panel formed by Riken to investigate the allegations announced today at a press conference, that two sets of images used in those articles were, manipulated or changed by the person who led the study, Dr. Haruko Obokata.
In addition, the panel also determined that other three co-authors did not commit any fraud, although he stressed that their responsibility is «severe» it does not verify the validity of the material presented in the articles.
On 14 March, awaiting the conclusion of the investigation, Riken officials had already advised Obokata to withdraw the article and explained that this decision was also at the expense of their own magazine «Nature».