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Stem Cell Researcher Fired Over Lies About iPS Treatment

The University of Tokyo has fired the researcher who claimed he treated heart failure patients with their own induced pluripotent stem cells, only to admit later that he lied.

The university fired the researcher, Hisashi Moriguchi, on Friday, less than a month after he presented his research at the New York Stem Cell Foundation meeting claiming he had developed a method of reprogramming induced pluripotent stem cells and that the iPS cells could be differentiated with a "supercooling method" that he invented.

He also said that he had injected genetically reprogrammed cells into six patients and that one patient he treated with the method was healthy eight months after treatment.

Questions arose about Moriguchi's claims quickly, and eventually Moriguchi was forced to admit that his story of injecting cardiac muscle derived from patients' iPS cells was untrue, although he insisted that he carried out his treatment on a single patient in mid-2011.

Moriguchi said his work was carried out at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital, but David Cameron, a spokesman for Harvard Medical School, told Nature News earlier this month, "No clinical trials related to Dr Moriguchi's work have been approved by institutional review boards at either Harvard University or MGH," and that Moriguchi's work was not done at MGH.

ScienceInsider reports that in a statement announcing Moriguchi's dismissal, the University of Tokyo says that its work rules call for the dismissal of an employee "in the case of significantly damaging the university's honor or credibility."

Fumio Isoda, the executive vice president of the University of Tokyo, adds, "This was conduct unbecoming a member of the faculty of this university, and it was dealt with strictly." An investigation into the affair is ongoing "to clarify the fact as quickly as possible," he says.

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