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.

Jun 18, 2013
Chris Palmer

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.”