At the 31st of the last January, in this blog, I wrote about STAP cells.

イジハピ! : 【第525回】The great discovery: STAP cell

Chief cells
I summarize again.
Dr. Obokata, Japanese biochemistry researcher stated that she found STAP cells.
The cells were multi-purpose that can be changed to every organs in human body.
They are like ES cells and iPS cells.
But it was quite easier to create STAP cells than the other two.

To create ES cells, you have to obtain a egg cell and you got to destroy it.
(It arises moral controversy too.)
To create iPS cells, you have to use gens that may occur cancer.
(But now the method is getting quite more safer, Dr. Yamanaka, the finder of the cells and the Novel prize winner.)
But to create STAP cells, you just put some cells into some weak acid, Dr. Obokata said.

But there are quite many suspicions for the research and more for Dr. Obokata herself.

Suspicions about the report of STAP cells
* The report that she mainly issued in the magazine Nature had some duplicated pictures
* Some pictures were copied from other report including her Doctor thesis
* Some pictures were retouched with some Photoshop-like software to disguise the result
* The other scientists in the world cannot reproduce it

Suspicions about the Doctor thesis
* The first 20 pages of 100 pages in the Doctor thesis that she had written was fraudulent use of Web page by NIH, the organization in States

Dr. Wakayama in Hiroshima university, who was co-worker of Dr. Obokata claimed that the researcher team should turn back the report and restart the research.
The researchers including Dr. Obokata had agreed, but Dr. Vacanti in Harvard University, who had been mentor of Dr. Obokata had disagreed.

Dr. Vacanti had given the basic idea of the STAP cells to Dr. Obokata when she was in the Harvard University.
The idea was that you can create multi-purpose cells out of any cells with some stimulation.
Then Dr. Obokata started her research.

After Dr. Obokata "created" the "STAP cells" (the quotation mark means that this is what she said and you cannot be sure), she passed them to Dr. Wakayama and asked him to create the chimera mouse to prove that the cell was multi-purpose.
He succeed and then they issued the report in Nature.

After the many suspicions arose, Dr. Wakayama passed the sample of the cells to the third party organization to check what the cells were.
This was because he didn't know whether they were STAP cells, ES cells, Muse cells, or anything.

Muse cells were found by other Japanese female researcher, Dr. Dezawa in Tohoku University.
They are other kind of multi-purpose cells.
They are rare cells included in the organs of living beings originally.

Dr. Wakayama stated that he believes the chimera mouse so the cells were some multi-purpose cells, but he is not sure they were STAP cells created with the Dr. Obokata's method.

The third party organization stated that the sells were come from different mouse from the mouse which Dr. Obokata stated.
In short, the cells were suspicious, too.

So the situation became quite big scandal in Japan.
Many people blames Dr. Obokata.
The people don't know about Science, and the same people had praised her.


I describe my opinion below.
The people who talk about this situation mixes some different problems that should not be mixed.
1) the suspicions about Dr. Obokata's Doctor thesis
2) the suspicions about Nature report
3) the fact --- the STAP cells exist or don't exist

For 1) and 2), it is so sad thing but we should accept that Dr. Obokata stole some description from other report, duplicated some pictures, and retouched some pictures.

But for 3), I cannot be sure because I don't know well about science.
Many fine researchers are investigating, so we should wait for the result.

She might be a bad scientist, but she might find some great thing.
The great discovery of science was achieved with some serendipity.
At least, she is the person who knows well about cells, so we should keep investigation with her words.
If we won't be able to find STAP cells, we would find any study, I hope.

My friend Mr. Y (a researcher of Chemistry) gave me an analogy:
A girl who didn't have the driver's license entered the car race.
Then she won the race.
After the race, someone found that she didn't have the license.
But the Fact that she could run faster than anyone else could not be deleted.

I agree with my friend's analogy.