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Japan stem cell scientist calls for retraction of study

TOKYO - A co-author of a Japanese study that promised a revolutionary way to create stem cells has called for the headline-grabbing research to be retracted over claims its data was faulty.

The findings, published by Japanese researcher Haruko Obokata and US-based scientists, outlined a simple and low-tech approach in the quest to grow transplant tissue in the lab.

The study was touted as the third great advance in stem cells -- a futuristic field that aims to reverse Alzheimer’s, cancer and other crippling or lethal diseases.

But it faced hard questions as the Japan-based Riken institute, which sponsored the study, launched a probe last month over the credibility of data used in the explosive findings.

At issue are allegations that researchers used erroneous image data for an article published in the January edition of British journal Nature.

Teruhiko Wakayama, a Yamanashi University professor who co-authored the article, called for a retraction.

"It’s hard to believe the findings anymore after so many mistakes in the data," he told broadcaster Nippon Television late Monday.

On Tuesday, the institute said it was mulling whether to pull back the study.

"We are considering whether to retract the report based on its credibility and research ethics, even though our investigation is still underway," it said.

In an e-mailed statement, the journal said: "Issues relating to this paper have been brought to Nature’s attention and we are conducting an ongoing investigation. We have no further comment at this stage."

AFP


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