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Suing Over a Nobel

The scientist who sued the Nobel committee is now suing Nobel winner Shinya Yamanaka.

By | May 16, 2013

WIKIMEDIA, JONATHUNDEREarlier this year California surgeon Rongxiang Xu sued the Nobel Committee for failing to recognize him in 2012 for his work on regenerative medicine. Yesterday (May 15) he announced that he is also suing one of the prize’s winners, Shinya Yamanaka, who was honored for his work on stem cells along with fellow scientist John Gurdon.

Xu, founder of the regenerative medicine company MEBO, claimed in his suit that Yamanaka is guilty of slander of title, defamation, trade libel, unfair competition, and negligent interference with prospective economic advantage. A press release said that Xu had patented the ability to turn differentiated somatic cells into stem cells before Yamanaka stated that he had done the same, detracting from Xu’s reputation. Moreover the release said that Yamanaka did not really “obtain natural pluripotent stem cells by somatic cell induction,” calling his stem cell work a “ridiculous scientific scam.”

Xu has not published any of his purported work on stem cells in peer-reviewed journals listed in PubMed. When asked a few months ago about Xu’s research, stem cell scientists were skeptical.  “Dr. Xu says he [induces pluripotent cells] with no genetic manipulation, but he has not shown it,” Thomas Graf of the Center for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona, Spain, told The Scientist in reference to Xu’s original suit. “Saying it is one thing; proving it is another.”

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Avatar of: Ronald W

Ronald W

Posts: 10

May 16, 2013

Proven it to who? The fact that he's got a patent is a pretty powerful statement. Why aren't people questioning that?

Avatar of: BW012375

BW012375

Posts: 6

May 16, 2013

Wow, that's gutsy, calling the Nobel winner a "scientific scam." This is definitely a huge battle in the stem cell and regenerative medicine arena.

Avatar of: ManofScience

ManofScience

Posts: 11

May 16, 2013

Make sure to read that press release - apparently this goes way beyond Xu's research as a stem cell scientist. We're talking about the promise of human regeneration here. It even falls in line with Obama's state of the union from 2012. Is it possible?

Avatar of: RHein

RHein

Posts: 6

May 16, 2013

I have to admit, the first few times I came across articles about Dr. Xu, it sounded like a scam. But there's some meat to this. Can't trust anything in the way of research these days can we? 

Avatar of: DJW1223

DJW1223

Posts: 2

May 16, 2013

In this instance, it's sounds a little fishy (and overdramatic) to me. I mean "scientific scam"?

Avatar of: Ronald W

Ronald W

Posts: 10

May 16, 2013

You have to realize @DJW that Xu has been at this along time. There is no doubt that his patent has pretty solid footing. The "scientific scam" is no doubt just a way to get his point across. Will Yamanaka react? Who knows - but that's not the kind of thing you just sweep under the rug. 

May 16, 2013

It's concerning to me that this kind of thing could be available but unknown to our medical community. I have to agree that the patent speaks for itself. Even from reading other articles (and comments) about Xu - it seems that he's got a number of treatments being adapted by the WHO. We are in the age of regeneration it seems.

Avatar of: ProfessorK

ProfessorK

Posts: 11

May 16, 2013

I'd had heard criticism of Yamanaka's research previously, but this really puts it into perspective. I shall definitely try to find that patent and take a look into it. Best of luck to Dr. Xu, as he seems to be pushing forward organ regeneration better than anyone in his field. 

Avatar of: Dockell

Dockell

Posts: 8

May 16, 2013

Is it possible that Yamanaka really knowingly did this? Who's to say this wasn't an opportunity that he took based on the fact that there was an open market. I mean, embryonic was a dead fish at that point, correct?

Avatar of: HStaley

HStaley

Posts: 6

May 17, 2013

I wonder if Dr. Yamanak's science is a PR strategy or if he is just shaking in his boots. This is quite an accusation, and if someone was making these kinds of claims. I would say something. Where is he? 

Avatar of: JenniferHill02

JenniferHill02

Posts: 7

May 17, 2013

@ManofScience Dr. Xu's work is beyond the promise of human regeneration.  While people are still talking about the right method of stem cells, Dr. Xu has already jumped into the organ regeneration era.

Avatar of: KSzucs

KSzucs

Posts: 3

May 17, 2013

From what I have read Yamanaka and Xu are both doing work that will benefit the human regeneration field. The quotes from the Center for Genomic Regulation were taken a few months ago. I wonder how the stem cell scientist community feels about this work now. 

Avatar of: JWil85

JWil85

Posts: 4

May 17, 2013

All of the controversy around this prize has really upped the conversation around  human regeneration. I think its an excellent sign that the President has decided to make regeneration a main topic of focus. 

Avatar of: HChapman

HChapman

Posts: 9

May 17, 2013

I'm disconcerted that news like this is being overshadowed by the embryonic research in Oregon. I feel we're being deceived simply by the fact that those cells are being referred to as stem cells. Until they can heal the body by transforming into the correct type of cell, they can't be referred to as stem cells. Because that is the most important factor in being a stem cell.

Avatar of: Jack F

Jack F

Posts: 1

May 17, 2013

The comments to this article are highly suspicious since many of the commenters seem only to post to articles that relate to Xu (see previous article: http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/34705/title/Snubbed-for-a-Nobel-/ ). The integrity and scientific acumen of Yamanaka are not being questioned elsewhere.

 

Avatar of: CBerrien

CBerrien

Posts: 8

May 18, 2013

I'm wondering what the truth is about Yamanaka's patent? Did he have one? If he can prove it in court than this is all moot.

Avatar of: BW012375

BW012375

Posts: 6

May 18, 2013

There's no need to troll, @Jack.

We'd rather hear your opinion about the suit - a conversation not an accusation. This is going to be a huge lawsuit that puts the credibility of both of these scientists at stake. And whoever loses might very well be a laughing stock of the scienctific community.

Avatar of: ClevelandKen

ClevelandKen

Posts: 7

May 18, 2013

I would also be curious to know about Yamanaka's patents. Does anyone know where that can be found? It really is going to come down to a ruling by the courts. It's sad to see litigation having such a profound effect on something as pure as the quest for knowledge.

Either way, can't wait to see the outcome of this one.

Avatar of: ManofScience

ManofScience

Posts: 11

May 20, 2013

What will be the case if Xu has his patent - which I presume is in the US? - and Yamanaka does not. Is this plausible?

Avatar of: CBerrien

CBerrien

Posts: 8

May 20, 2013

As this is really a litigation battle, that is going to end up in the hands of the court(s). In which case, it'll probably be years involving large-scale reports that might set both of these scientists back a few years. But time will tell.

Avatar of: BSmith

BSmith

Posts: 3

May 20, 2013

Thanks for the story, Kate. It's rare to see such a unique face-off in science, when similar things are likely happening every day in places unknown to most. I hope you guys keep covering this, as it might be one of the biggest stories of our generation.

Avatar of: ProfessorK

ProfessorK

Posts: 11

May 21, 2013

Whereas it once seemed Yamanaka's pluripotent cells were the best option available, it's interesting that this in combination with the findings of embryonic stem cells should happen so close together.

Avatar of: ClevelandKen

ClevelandKen

Posts: 7

May 21, 2013

Yamanaka's patents? Do they exist?

Avatar of: JenniferHill02

JenniferHill02

Posts: 7

May 23, 2013

Thomas Graf does make a good point. I would be nicee to hear some sort of reply from Dr. Yamanaka.

Avatar of: KSzucs

KSzucs

Posts: 3

May 23, 2013

The distinctions between these techniques seems clouldy. Perhaps that's why Dr. Yamanaka didn't see his work as an infrigement on Dr. Xu's patent. 

Avatar of: Ben F

Ben F

Posts: 8

May 23, 2013

While I think this is highly more relevant in regenerative medicine than the direction of stem cells, it's going to be a battle worth watching. Honestly, I hope both of them are capable of doing what they say they can.

Avatar of: ManofScience

ManofScience

Posts: 11

May 23, 2013

If I were Yamanaka, my response would be to just meet him in court. No need to respond before then, just take what you have and prove them wrong.

Avatar of: JWil85

JWil85

Posts: 4

May 24, 2013

Something definitiely seems to be in the air. The stem cell work happening in Oregon, the work of these two doctors, and our President's call to action make me think that 2013 is going to be a big year in this field. 

Avatar of: THenry02

THenry02

Posts: 12

May 25, 2013

Nice scoop! Thanks for the story, Kate.

Avatar of: HChapman

HChapman

Posts: 9

May 25, 2013

Hope everyone has seen this:


http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/05/23/186246916/seeing-double-errors-in-stem-cell-cloning-paper-raise-doubts

Why does it seem to be such a big problem in America?

Avatar of: Ronald W

Ronald W

Posts: 10

May 25, 2013

Are we really supposed to believe it's just a clerical error?

Avatar of: THenry02

THenry02

Posts: 12

May 25, 2013

Yeah, what an interesting twist that story has.

Avatar of: RJohnson

RJohnson

Posts: 9

May 26, 2013

Definitely like the interesting conversation on this thread. What a topic!

Avatar of: Ben F

Ben F

Posts: 8

May 26, 2013

Yeah, I certainly hope they're on the heels of personalized medicine in Oregon. Shame what happened to that study, but it's better that we are being thorough.

Avatar of: Ben F

Ben F

Posts: 8

May 27, 2013

If you are truly the first doctor to reach a  scientific milestone, you would want to protect the research and work. The clarity around Dr. Xu's process and how it differs from Dr. Yamanaka could spark some real growth in the regenerative field. 

Avatar of: HStaley

HStaley

Posts: 6

May 27, 2013

Turning differentiated somatic cells into stem cells, is much more advanced than the research coming out of Oregon. Why isn't that receiving more coverage?

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