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More Questionable Stem-Cell Science

Disgraced stem-cell researcher Hisashi Moriguchi has published three new papers in BMJ Case Reports, including a rehashing of a retracted 2012 paper.

By | June 18, 2013

Tokyo Medical and Dental UniversityWikimedia Commons, Rs1421Hisashi Moriguchi is at it again. The researcher, who last year confessed to falsifying stem-cell findings in a number of published papers, has published three new studies over the past 2 months in the peer-reviewed medical journal BMJ Case Reports, Nature reported last week.

In October 2012, a Nature investigation brought to light the fraudulent nature of Moriguchi’s work, including descriptions of six heart disease patients who had experienced significant therapeutic improvement after receiving injections of cardiac muscle cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) in their hearts. Moriguchi subsequently admitted that his claims were false, leading to his dismissal from the University of Tokyo and the retraction of several papers.

Now, Moriguchi, who has a degree in nursing and a master’s in health promotion, but no formal training in molecular biology, has three new papers out in BMJ Case Reports. One paper, published online in April, describes a procedure for supercooling oocytes to preserve eggs from the ovaries of cancer patients for future in vitro fertilization procedures. The paper appears to be a plagiarized version of a paper he retracted in 2012, according to Nature. A second paper, published online on May 2, details the use of iPSCs to treat liver cancer. In a third paper, published a few weeks later, Moriguchi again claims to have injected cardiac stem cells into a heart failure patient.

Nature was not able to confirm the existence of Moriguchi’s co-author, Joren Madson, listed on all three new papers, nor the company, Boston-based Reprogramming, Inc., that Madson supposedly works for.

Moriguchi’s current affiliation is unknown. The email address Moriguchi used as corresponding author on the new papers is provided by the University Hospital Medical Information Network (UMIN), a Japanese organization that provides biomedical science information. Nature reported that Moriguchi does not hold a position there. Email addresses are given to anyone who registers on their website.

Moriguchi responded via email to Nature’s request for more information:

“Thank you very much for your interest. This week including today is difficult as I am in hospital. In another days (next weeks, etc), I appreciate if I can discuss about the issue via e-mail. I look forward to hearing from you via e-mail.”

Nature also reported that a press officer from BMJ Case Reports claims “that the journal is looking into the matter.”

 

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Comments

Avatar of: LeeH

LeeH

Posts: 30

June 18, 2013

You would think a bit of due diligence would enter into the review process. 

Avatar of: Ben F

Ben F

Posts: 8

June 19, 2013

So how exactly did he get published again?

Avatar of: CBerrien

CBerrien

Posts: 8

June 19, 2013

I hate reading stories like this. Thanks for the great coverage, Chris!

Avatar of: ManofScience

ManofScience

Posts: 11

June 19, 2013

This is the kind of story that illuminates the problems with research in this industry.

So much is going on behind the scenes, making it very tough for even the best writers to report, and impossible for any sort of laymen (and probably even other scientists) to get a clear picture of what’s happening. The inconsistency is hugely confusing.

Avatar of: THenry02

THenry02

Posts: 12

June 20, 2013

Good level of reporting on this. It’s getting increasingly harder to follow along with this industry for a number of reasons. Thank you for really calling this c*** out.

Avatar of: ManofScience

ManofScience

Posts: 11

June 20, 2013

All due respect to the Scientist, this story reported itself. But it's a shame what our review process is coming to, that's for sure.

June 20, 2013

For everyone who's ever been confused by the ambiguity of the word "pluripotency," here is a good read: http://bit.ly/13CXJMJ

Avatar of: Dockell

Dockell

Posts: 8

June 21, 2013

Great article, Chris. Is there no sort of reprimands that can be taken against him? Thanks for the post as well @upsidedownscience

Avatar of: RHein

RHein

Posts: 6

June 21, 2013

Thanks for the share, upsidedownscience. I appreciate the straight-forwardness that the article is going for.

June 21, 2013

If only all stories about stem cells could include this sort of depth and detail. That's why I frequent sites like Wired (and of course The Scientist), they don't throw around terms just for the sake of it.

I've grown so weary of people misusing or not adequately explaining the pluripotency of their studies, although in some cases I'm sure it has to do with the publications themelves erring in their reporting. It's definitely a matter of due diligence that I'd really like to see improve given the gravity of these studies. 

We aren't talking about a line of products here. This is potentially the future of the human race.

Avatar of: AReese

AReese

Posts: 3

June 25, 2013

Thanks for the great coverage, Chris!

Avatar of: RHein

RHein

Posts: 6

July 3, 2013

Yeah, I really appreciate other readers spreading great content when they find it. It plays a part in educating ourselves on the science, and not being duped.

July 3, 2013

We all need to be aware, not only of the dangers of "scientists" like Moriguchi, but also of the people and scientists who are doing it through the right means. People who aren't afraid to report the truth.

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