U.S. and Japanese scientists who reported that they’d found a startlingly simple way to make stem cells withdrew that claim Wednesday, admitting “extensive” errors in the research.
In two papers published in January in the journal Nature, the researchers said that they’d been able to transform ordinary mouse cells into versatile stem cells by exposing them to a mildly acidic environment. Someday, scientists hope to harness stem cells to grow replacement tissue for treating a variety of diseases.
Though researchers have long been able to perform such transformations with a different method, the newly reported technique was far simpler, and the papers caused a sensation — and some skepticism — in the research community. They also were widely reported in the media, including by The Associated Press.
On Wednesday, Nature released a statement from the authors of the papers that retracted the papers, a rare occurrence for the prestigious journal.