Stem cell breakthrough questioned

Research from Japanese stem cell scientists under intense scrutiny

Research conducted by stem cell scientists in Japan, touted just last month as a possible breakthrough in regenerative medicine, has fallen under intense scrutiny.

Following the study’s inclusion in the journal Nature, media outlets around the world—including this paper—reported that shocking skin cells with acid could turn them into stem cells, according to BBC News. The findings suggested that stem cells would no longer need to be taken from embryos or created through costly and complicated genetic modification.

But separate research groups have since failed to produce the same results, and questions about images presented in the scientific report have arisen; namely, they were similar to images used in a previous stem cell study conducted by one of the team’s researchers that did not use the acid-bath technique.

One of the study’s authors, Teruhiko Wakayama, said, “It is no longer clear what is right.”