(UPDATE 3) The story gets richer by the day. Now it's been found that Professor Charles Vacanti, head of Anesthesiology at Brigham and Women's Hospital and the corresponding author of the Nature paper which he finally agreed to retract after just about everything in the paper was found to be more fantasy than reality, has been awarded US$700,000 grant from the Department of Defense via AxoGen, Inc., "the emerging leader of the $1.6 billion U.S. peripheral nerve repair market" according to the PR on June 4, 2014.
“I am excited about the potential to address challenging nerve repair cases through the use of regenerative medicine and stem cell therapies,” said Vacanti
The US taxpayers are thrilled to fund his research, I suppose.
(UPDATE 2) Yomiuri and other papers reported on 6/5/2014 that Ms. Obokata's job application paper for Riken's position ("unit leader" with close to 100,000 dollars salary) was found to contain more copying and pasting - from her doctoral thesis which is itself full of copying and pasting and from patent applications submitted by Harvard University. It would be a surprise if there is anything, anything at all that this so-called researcher has ever produced without copying and pasting someone else's work.
(UPDATE) So it was a pressure exerted by Nature Magazine on Charles Vacanti. According to Asahi Shinbun (6/5/2014), Nature strongly suggested Vacanti agree to withdraw the papers (only Vacanti and Obokata were holding out) instead of Nature doing it without his consent. After Vacanti folded, Obokata folded.
Fraud through and through, it seems to me.
The latest developments came on June 3, 2014, when NHK reported on two different investigations done on these so-called STAP (stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency) cells (which was originally to be called "princess cells" - princess woken up by a kiss from a prince, no less - by the lead author of the two papers accepted by Nature).
According to NHK News (6/3/2014):
- Genetic analysis of the cells created from STAP cells shows these cells were from the mice different from those supposedly used in the experiment detailed in the Nature papers.
- The cells were supposed to be created from "F1" mouse according to the Nature papers, but in fact they were from "B6" and "CD1" mouse.
- Cells from "B6" mouse are similar to "ES cells (embryonic stem cells)", and cells from "CD1" mouse are similar to "TS cells (trophoblast stem cells).
Ms. Obokata's secret recipe may have been to mix ES cells and TS cells cleverly. There was no STAP stem cell, there is no STAP stem cell, as even the magazine that published the two papers now admits.
And what is Riken going to do? Nothing. They have said they will continue their effort to recreate the experiment that supposedly created so-called STAP cells. Their best luck would be to mix ES cells and TS cells, just like the lead author (and probably the corresponding author Charles Vacanti) probably did. The top management of Riken seems eager to protect their star scientist Sasai, who was the mentor to Ms. Obokata and the promoter of her and her STAP cells, and shut down the investigation before it ensnares him.
Then today (6/4/21014), Nikkei Shinbun reports that Ms. Obokata has finally agree to retract the Nature paper, as well as the letter. NHK says the corresponding author Professor Charles Vacanti may now be willing to retract the paper.
About time to put this sorry saga to rest, but many net citizens (mostly males) in Japan continue to firmly believe it is some kind of a huge conspiracy by male-dominated research institutions and the national government to monopolize these so-called STAP cells. Poor little girl, they say.
The lead attorney assisting Ms. Obokata in dealing with Riken says she is still hospitalized and too weak (from unspecified illness, like some celebrities or politicians) and says she has probably been pressured by Riken to accept the retraction.
So far, there is no investigation by Harvard University and Nature Magazine. Waseda University, which conferred Obokata her doctoral degree, apparently does not understand what's wrong with copying and pasting without citations in writing a doctoral thesis.