TOKYO (AFP) – A researcher embroiled in a fabrication scandal that has rocked Japan’s scientific establishment said Friday she would resign after failing to reproduce results of what was once billed as a ground-breaking study on stem cells.
Haruko Obokata said she was dismayed that new laboratory tests have not been able to repeat her experiments, which she had claimed showed the successful conversion of an adult cell into a stem cell-like state.
“I am keenly aware of my responsibility for troubling a number of people because of my inexperience,” Obokata said in a statement.
“I even can’t find the words for an apology,” said Obokata, who has avoided media exposure since her last news conference in April.
Her resignation came as Japan’s Riken Institute formally announced that so-called “STAP” cells cannot be recreated, apparently drawing a line under the controversial study.
“We have conducted verification experiments but can’t repeat the STAP phenomenon,” team leader Shinichi Aizawa told a nationally broadcast news conference.
“As a result, we will terminate the verification experiments,” he said, cutting short verification tests that had been originally scheduled to last until March.
Riken in January trumpeted Obokata’s simple method to re-programme adult cells to work like stem cells – precursors that are capable of developing into any other cell in the human body.
Her work was published in the international journal Nature.