The research findings claim that the research team
led by Haruko Obokata was successful in discovering an unexpected easy way to manipulate somatic cell reprogramming into
pluripotent cells by exposure to sub lethal stimuli.
The discovered phenomenon indicates that after
experiencing sublethal stimuli such as a low-pH exposure the
somatic cells regain pluripotency. According to the results, the expositor of splenic CD 45+ topH 5.7 for 30
Minutes and subsequently cultured in the presence of LIF, a substantial portion of surviving cells start to express the pluripotent cell marker Oct4 at day 2.
Moreover, pluripotent cell clusters form with a bona fide pluripotency marker
profile and acquire the competence for three-germ-layer differentiation by day 7. The researchers argue that these stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency cells can also efficiently contribute to chimaera mice and undergo germline transmission using a blastocyst
Although these features resemble those of ES cells, STAP cells seem to differ from ES cells in their limited capacity for self-renewal and in their vulnerability to
dissociation. However, when cultured in the presence of ACTH and LIF for
7?days, STAP cells, ata moderate frequency, further convert into pluripotent ‘stem’ cells that vigorously proliferate “STAP stem cells”. STAP is the bridge to long held goals of patient specific drug development, advanced
disease modelling, and the ability to restore body parts without the risk of immune system rejection or cancerous cells.
Thus, it will give researchers
the opportunity they have been waiting for years to know and master. Scientists
knew that develop a major and remarkably easy way to
make stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells, that could be grown into tissue for use anywhere in the, will change
all the science text books.
2014 was one of the hardest years for the 30 years old scientist Haruko Obokata,
the head of her own laboratory, at that time, at the Riken Centre for Developmental
Biology (CDB) in Kobe, Japan. Haruko Obokata was thriving in the world of
stem cell research which is considered as a male dominated field. The new thriving star in the scientific firmament, Haruko Obokata, was considered by many people at
that time as national hero. Unfortunately,
it was a short-lived glory and her fall from grace spectacular,
completed in several humiliating stages.
In January 2014, when Obokata published two breakthrough articles in Nature, which recognized as a top science journal. Obokata and
her team clamed that they were able to turn body cells into embryonic stem
cells. Within days of her
publishing her two papers in Nature, disturbing allegations started to rise in social media and science blogs. Some of her images
looked doctored, and chunks of her text were lifted from other papers. Riken
Centre for Developmental Biology started their investigations soon after these claims came up. Thus, on the 1st of April, Riken announced
its findings, which stated that Haruko Obokata was found guilty of scientific misconduct.
The public shaming soon followed. The news / social media built her up and it was more than happy to tear her down over and over. The guilty Obokata
faced a challenging press conference and broadcast live on TV. Standing in front of all these reporters, Haruko Obokata was apologising, bowing, and replying to
their questions. However, she maintained that her stimulus-triggered
acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells really do exist. At the beginning, all
her collaborators believed and stood firmly by her, but no one else was able to
make it work even though her method where really simple. Thus, one after another they gave up and requested Nature to
retract the two articles.
In June of 2014, Obokata requested to
retract the articles. Surprisingly, with the retraction of the two papers, the most damning
piece of evidence came out. A genetic analysis proved that the
stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency, STAP, cells didn’t match the
genetic analysis of the mice from which they supposedly came. According to her lawyer, Haruko Obokata, “couldn’t understand how that was possible.” But the obvious, and rather depressing, explanation is that her so-called STAP cells were just regular embryonic stem
cells that someone had taken from a freezer and relabelled. Yoshiki Sasai was one of the scientist that singled out
for criticism, deputy director of Riken and Obokata’s supervisor. A well-respected stem cell scientist, Sasai was, in his own
words, “overwhelmed with shame”. In the 5th of
August, after a month in hospital for depression, the 52 years
old committed suicide in a stairwell at a research facility opposite the CDB, leaving behind three farewell notes. According to Japan Times, The one he addressed to
Obokata contained this plea, “Be sure to reproduce STAP cells.”
Riken offered Obokata a golden opportunity to honor Sasai’s dying wish.
Instated of firing Obokata, Riken decided to keep her on, allowing her to help
a team of researchers reproduce her work. After eight months of effort,
the team admitted defeat and Obokata, claiming to be “extremely perplexed.” The
name Obokata had joined the ranks of some very distinguished biomedical
fraudsters. Responsibility is the price of greatness. This research is
different than any other experiment because stem cell research lies at the core of human needs. Human want to understand our origins and to defeat
death. Also, the huge amount of money and prestige waiting for a researcher to clam.
It makes me feel more confident in the scientific community when I saw how fast her
work was exposed. As soon as Obokata published her work and claimed that she
created the stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency (STAP) cells, other
researchers tried to redo the experiment, but they failed. Biomedical research
is very important, and it is strictly regulated, and wet lab procedures better established. The internet and social media played have very major role in this
case, making it faster and easier for scientists to compare
notes and spot errors.
One of the cornerstones of modern science is Reproducibility.
Unless an experiment can be repeated again and again by different researchers, each time yielding similar results, it can’t be said to prove anything much. At least that’s the theory. There are a lot of published
papers and experiments every day, and it is impossible to look closely to each one of them. However, as scientists we follow a code because we owe the tax papers and the
scientific community the truth and nothing but the truth. Obokata insisted that
she had been made a scapegoat, and I disagree because the scientific community
made an example out of her. “All Japanese media reported and concluded
that Dr. Wakayama is a victim, and Obokata
is an absolute scoundrel, she wrote.
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