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Scientists fail to replicate groundbreaking stem cell technique, sparking investigation

11
Mar
2014

The science world was abuzz in late January, when researchers from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology, in Japan, announced that they had devised a simple way of forcing adult cells to become embryonic-style stem cells. Embryonic stem cells have the remarkable ability to transform into any other cell type, so finding an easy way to make regular cells revert to this state could one day allow physicians to repair damaged cells and grow new organs. The method is based on the idea that mature adult cells react to severe trauma — in this case, oxygen starvation or acidic conditions — by reverting to an embryonic-like stem cell state. Yet now that Teruhiko Wakayam, a developmental engineer at the University of Yamanashi, is questioning his own studys results, the future of this technique is becoming increasingly uncertain.

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