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Retraction Time

Stem cell scientist Haruko Obokata from the Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Japan has agreed to retract one of the two papers describing a controversial technique for generating stem cells by stressing them using acid or pressure, the Nature News Blog reports.

Obokata and her colleagues published two papers on the STAP method in Nature in January, and though the technique was first hailed as a "game-changer," it quickly raised eyebrows and suspicions. An investigation by Riken found evidence of misconduct, including the splicing together of electrophoresis gel pictures and the reuse of data from Obokata's doctoral thesis that referred to experiments run under different conditions. Other labs have also been unable to replicate the findings.

At that time, Obokata apologized for her errors, saying they were not deliberate, and stood by her work. She also said she would be appealing the findings, though that appeal was rejected earlier this month.

Now, though, she has agreed to retract one of the papers. According to the Nature News Blog, which notes that it is editorially independent of the research editorial team, the "Bidirectional developmental potential in reprogrammed cells with acquired pluripotency" paper is to be retracted. Riken tells the Nature News Blog that all co-author have either agreed to the retraction or don't oppose it.

However, the journal Nature couldn't confirm the request. "Nature does not comment on corrections or retractions that may or may not be under consideration, nor does it comment on correspondence with authors, which is confidential," a spokesperson tells the Nature News Blog. "We are currently conducting our own evaluation and we hope that we are close to reaching a conclusion and taking action."

The Japan Times adds that Obokata says she will not retract the other paper.

HT: Retraction Watch