WIKIMEDIA, JULOLast week (March 11), Teruhiko Wakayama of Yamanashi University, one of the scientists behind the stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) studies led by researchers at the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology and published in Nature in January, requested that the work be pulled from the literature. And in a March 14 press release, RIKEN said that the committee tasked with examining the studies “concluded that there had been inappropriate handling of data for two of the items under investigation, but the circumstances were not judged to constitute research misconduct.” During a press conference held that same day in Tokyo, RIKEN President Ryoji Noyori expressed his personal concerns surrounding the STAP controversy.
“I would like, first and foremost, to express my deepest regrets that articles published in Nature by RIKEN scientists are bringing into question the credibility of the scientific community,” Noyori said in a statement, adding: “The reproducibility and credibility of the STAP phenomenon must be rigorously validated, not only by RIKEN scientists, but also by others.” Several groups have reported trouble reproducing the method, which was once touted as a “simple” approach to reprogramming differentiated cells to a stem-like state.
The RIKEN investigation of the work continues, but for its part, Nature explained that it typically tries to get all authors on to agree on retracting published papers. “In cases where not all of the authors agree on a retraction, Nature evaluates whether the evidence available supports the main conclusions of the paper,” a journal spokesperson told Nature News. “We may decide to retract in cases where the authors cannot provide evidence to support the main conclusions of the paper. In such cases, if some authors still disagree with the retraction, we note the dissenting authors in the retraction notice.”