Almost five months after publication, Nature retracted two papers regarding new stem cell research. This retraction came after various errors were spotted, both in the papers presented and the attempted recreations of the experiments described. The research, which claimed that embryonic stem cells could be created by exposing normal skin cells to stress, appeared to be a medical breakthrough at the time of publication.
The lead author was found guilty of misconduct, while her employer was threatened numerous times with dismantlement, reports Scientific American. It appeared that parts of the methods were plagiarised from previous studies in the stem cell field, and the supposed ‘different’ cells and embryos described in the study were actually the same.
It was only after recreation of the described methods failed that the errors were brought forth and scrutinized by various outside sources, including one of the co-authors. The Riken Center for Developmental Biology in Japan began in-depth investigations into the studies in February 2014, and categorized some of the major errors that skewed the written results as misconduct, reports Uncover California.
Nature released a statement regarding the publication, saying: “The episode has further highlighted flaws in Nature’s procedures and in the procedures of institutions that publish with us.”