- The excitement surrounding the prospect of reprogramming mature cells back to an embryonic state has evaporated, as it becomes clear that the Japanese scientist Harako Obokata's results could not be replicated in repeat trials.
- Just three months ago, Obokata joined the Riken Institute in Japan to reproduce the results associated with STAP cells (the reprogrammed cells), but she could not.
- Not being able to reproduce the results was embarrassing enough. But Riken higher-ups also discovered that Obokata had fabricated parts of published papers, forcing them to retract submissions to influential journals like Nature.
Fraud and unethical behavior in studies is a decidedly under-explored aspect of academia. But this case, with its high-profile medical technologies and the spectacular fashion in which things came tumbling down, made waves across the scientific community.
"We were unable to recreate the STAP phenomenon," said Svinicki Aizawa, head of Aiken's verification team, in a statement to Reuters. "We had planned to continue replication efforts until March next year, but in the light of these results, we have decided to terminate the experiments."
Notably, Aizawa could not say whether the STAP cells exer existed in the first place. "All I can say is that we couldn't replicate the original results," he said.