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Journal Nature to withdraw STAP cell papers

The British science journal Nature will formally retract two papers this week on so-called STAP cells following allegations of research misconduct.

The papers published in Nature in January were written by a team led by Haruko Obokata, a researcher at Japan's RIKEN institute.

The team claimed to have developed stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency, or STAP cells capable of developing into any kind of tissue. But scientists raised doubts over the research.

One of the papers was an article showing how STAP cells are produced. A panel at RIKEN concluded in April that images in it had been falsified and fabricated, and urged Obokata and the team to retract the article.

The other paper was a letter explaining that STAP cells can grow into any kind of body tissue.

But data in the letter included 2 types of cells that were not supposed to have been used in the research.

RIKEN is now conducting experiments to verify whether STAP cells really exist. They are expected to take about a year.

The papers initially gained worldwide attention and generated hopes the findings would help advance regenerative medicine. But 5 months after the announcement, the study has lost scientific basis due to the retraction.

Jun. 30, 2014 - Updated 10:14 UTC