Japan lab dismisses groundbreaking stem cell study

Updated 26 December 2014
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Japan lab dismisses groundbreaking stem cell study

TOKYO: Japan’s top research institute on Friday hammered the final nail in the coffin of what was once billed as a groundbreaking stem cell study, dismissing it as flawed and saying the work could have been fabricated.
The revelations come a week after a young researcher at the center of the scandal, which has rocked the country’s scientific establishment, said she would resign after failing to reproduce the successful conversion of an adult cell into a stem cell-like state, known as “STAP” cells.
The failure marked a stunning fall from grace for 31-year-old Haruko Obokata, whose co-researcher committed suicide amid the embarrassing scandal that prompted respected science journal Nature to retract an article detailing the research.
On Friday the government-backed Riken institute, which sponsored the study, said embryonic stem cells had been added in the process of the research, hammering Obokata’s contention that she had found an easier way to generate new stem cells in the lab.
“But we can’t conclude whether the mixing was done on purpose or by mistake nor can we conclude who did it,” probe team chief Isao Katsura, head of the National Institute of Genetics, told a news briefing in Tokyo.
In January, Riken trumpeted Obokata’s simple method to re-program adult cells to work like stem cells.The study was top news in Japan, where the photogenic Obokata, a Harvard-trained scientist, became a phenomenon. But media attention soon grew into skepticism as doubts emerged about Obokata’s papers on Stimulus-Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency (STAP). Mistakes were discovered in some data published in two papers, photograph captions were found to be misleading, and the work itself could not be repeated by other scientists.
On Friday the head of the probe team, which was made up of scientists outside the institute and lawyers, said the committee interviewed Obokata three times.
“During the last of our interviews we told her that we had enough evidence to show the mixing-in (of embryonic stem cells),” Katsura said.
“Then, before us asking anything, Ms.Obokata said ‘I’ve never mixed them.’”


Loud explosion, gunfire rock downtown Kabul

Updated 20 April 2019
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Loud explosion, gunfire rock downtown Kabul

  • Sporadic fires and an explosion were heard near the communication ministry in Kabul

KABUL: A loud explosion and gunfire was heard in central Kabul on Saturday, in a blast Afghan officials said occurred near the communication ministry.
“Around 11:40 am (0710 GMT) an explosion heard near the communication ministry, and sporadic fires have also been heard in the area,” said interior ministry spokesman Nasrat Rahimi.
The communication ministry is located in downtown Kabul, about two kilometers (1.25 miles) from the green zone.