Obokata news conference: thoughts, questions & open discussion

Obokata press conferenceDr. Haruko Obokata held a news conference today in Japan.

It was very painful to watch.

I’m a softy so at moments I felt somewhat sad for her as I watched, but as a scientist I have to say the STAP situation has been very bad for the stem cell field.

And I’m also pretty sure that this press conference did not do the stem cell field or anyone else any good including Obokata.

She first read from a pre-released printed statement that included an apology for many mistakes that she blamed on her own “carelessness and inexperience”, but that she still fully believes in STAP cells (you can see the full WSJ translation here). TJO was live Tweeting the conference as well.

Her statement admitted to many mistakes, but challenged RIKEN:

“The Riken investigation concluded that there was misconduct without sufficient understanding of the facts.”

She also wrote in the statement:

“the mistakes do not effect the conclusion of the papers, and moreover the experiments have been conducted accurately and the data exist.”

Frankly I do not have any more confidence in STAP itself after this press event than I did before. Perhaps even less.

After she read her statement, her lawyer went through the details of her appeal of the RIKEN decision.

The video feed cut out on me part way through and I couldn’t get it back up, but I saw her begin to take questions. She is still opposed to retraction.

One thing going through my mind as I watched and as I read the WSJ translation was the same question over and over “where were the mentors?” Certainly RIKEN must shoulder a major part of the blame for the STAP situation along with Brigham & Women’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School. At the same time I believe in personal responsibility and Obokata, who is/was a Unit Leader at RIKEN, apologized for many serious mistakes.

Basically it’s just a nightmare situation all around.

45 thoughts on “Obokata news conference: thoughts, questions & open discussion


  1. It was very unpleasant watch the press conference in many ways. I under the job of lawyers, but what they were doing was nothing helpful to solve anything behind the scene. They said the doubtful images in the Nature paper were not copied and pasted from her thesis, but never revealed whether they are. In addition, Obokata insisted that she has succeeded in observing the STAP “phenomena” more than 200 times. Even though she, a scientist, explained it herself, it was not clear at all what the “phenomena” mean. Simply GFP fluorescence? If she thinks that Oct4-GFP equals pluripotency and it helps the stem cell research and patients suffering waiting for new therapies as a scientist holding PhD, it would be a big problem.

    Another worry is that a poll showed nearly 40% of people see the conference useful or satisfactory. The country should rebuild the education system.


    • You said it.
      As a Japanese, I’m embarrassed to see that most of the Japanese public support Obokata’s belief, by which I’m taken aback.
      Most of the Japanese public couldn’t care less the community of science, and yet are concerned about only her personality. That results from their ignorance of common knowledge concerning science, and from Japanese typical emotionalism. That said, I don’t criticize them, because I’ve already given up.


    • I would like to correct some typos. My English is sometimes bad.
      ” from her thesis, but never revealed whether they are.”
      should have been written as
      ” from her thesis, but never revealed where they are from”

      Sorry for the inconvenience.


    • The following are what most of the Japanese public don’t in the least understand concerning this uproar:

      1. It doesn’t matter whether so-called STAP cells exit or not. That matter is of course the most important thing though, it’s not a mission of the investigation panel because the experimental result cannot instantly come out in the short term, and the panel has only to check up on Ms. Obokata’s papers per se. Incidentally, the team for reproducing STAP cells in RIKEN was launched the other day, but It’s another story.

      2. It’s one thing that Ms. Obokata as a researcher will be disciplined for her fabrication, and it’s quite another that RIKEN as her supervisor will take some sort of responsibility; that is, those two matters should be regarded as different, even though there is a close connection with each other.


  2. For Obokata, the easiest way to make self-defence at news conference, is to show her original figures/results, which she claimed not beautiful enough for Nature. Apparently she did not have them… Personally, I don’t believe STAP cells really exist.


  3. It’s true that an internet poll in Japan found about about 40% approved of Dr. Obokata’s presser, but I wouldn’t worry about that too much. I think it was mostly just people expressing sympathy.

    The morning news programs on Japanese TV and also newspapers seem to be pretty much unanimous in saying she failed to clear up the various doubts that have been raised about her work.

    The Riken rule on research misconduct says it’s not misconduct if there’s no “aku-i” (malicious intent), as opposed to the usual rule that says FFP is misconduct but “honest error” is not. So she basically acknowledged various problems in her work but she and her lawyers insisted they were not done with malicious intent so they weren’t violations of the Riken misconduct rule. I don’t think this kind of parsing will help her restore her reputation in the scientific community (quite the opposite, in fact) but it could prove helpful to her in hypothetical future litigation, say if Riken fires her and she sues for improper dismissal damages.

    Due to connectivity problems I didn’t see the whole presser, but in the parts I did see she didn’t come across with the professionalism one normally expects of a PI-class scientist. And her explanations for the various problems of image recycling, etc. struck me as being on the level of “the dog ate my homework.”


    • I’m a Japanese scientist doing climate science in US. I’m grad you left a good comment here, Prof Geller. I see this also has a similar aspect to a discussion of global warming. This must be a scientific discussion. Most of people are however are talking without understanding science. They want to have stories that sounds interesting to them or convincing to them. It is not very strange and I believe it is happening everywhere in the world. But my concern is Japan always tends to converge to one opinion even it is totally wrong. I believe this is because of our nature. We are in a tiny isolated island and do not have a great diversity. People are uncomfortable if they don’t agree with others. People are also uncomfortable if someone’s doing different from them. This is very scary in science of course and here as the 40% people could create a momentum. This was pretty bad for the IPS community. This can be however a great opportunity for Japan to fix problems in our education system and science community. We need to do this now for the rest of sound Japanese scientists and future scientist. I believe professors in top schools are in the best position to make it happen.


      • As an American, albeit one who’s lived in Japan for the past 30 years, I’d like to say that I think the tendency to conform to a consensus may be more or less equally strong in the U.S. and Japan (and perhaps in every other country too).

        This is a problem that can’t be solved only by education. It’s up to the leaders of the scientific community as a whole to take the lead in cleaning up problems like the STAP fiasco. In fact the Science Council of Japan has released a very reasonable statement (in Japanese) http://www.scj.go.jp/ja/info/kohyo/pdf/kohyo-22-d6.pdf , so I think the leadership of the scientific community in Japan can’t be faulted too much. (Maybe they should have been a bit more forward-going in publicizing their statement.)

        So, where’s the problem? It’s that Riken can ignore the statement of the Science Council of Japan with impunity, because Riken is completely under the control of the Ministry of Education (MEXT). And MEXT can ignore all external opinion, because there’s no independent oversight; all advisory committees are made up of MEXT’s hand-picked appointees and MEXT bureaucrats control the agendas and report-writing. So it’s a completely closed system.

        So if one wants to draw some general conclusions about Japan from the STAP fiasco, I would say it should be with regard to the need for reforming the system for making decisions regarding science policy, which is excessively at present dominated by bureaucrats who base decisions on slogans rather than scientific reality.


        • I have worked in both universities and government research institutions. In Japan RIKEN is a historical anomaly, it isn’t a Kyodo-riyo Ken (open lab whose mission is to provide research infrastructure to external users). RIKEN (as they often proudly say) only does research which benefits their own name. It might be beneficial for such a top-down government-agenda-driven organization to exist, for some types of research. But there is little justification (in my opinion) to increase the funding of RIKEN in laboratory-based basic research, instead of putting the money into open competitive funding geared to e.g. universities. First, young people=students will not really benefit. Second, MEXT bureaucrats (and the LDP) will have more proportionally more power over the scientific community.

          Now RIKEN repeatedly says their young scientists lack basic training and education. It isn’t the job of RIKEN to provide this education; that is the function of the universities. Young Ms. Obokata would not have been attacked so much had she made this mistake as a postdoc in a university (which is where she ought to have been at this stage in her career). This is the heart of this problem. A politics-driven entity like RIKEN isn’t an appropriate place for funding these young research groups.


        • Dear Prof Geller,
          Will you please give a translation of the Science Council of Japan statement? or a link to its translation in English? I studied in Japan, around 20 years ago, and I only can recognize some of the Kanji’s.
          Thanks a lot in advance.


          • Sorry I don’t have time to translate it. You can probably use Google translation and get a rough idea of what they said.

            I wrote to the Science Council of Japan and asked them to post an official English translation on their home page. If they do I’ll post the link here.


      • First I’m only a Japanese civilian.
        Altogether I agree with you though, it’s no use to enlighten the Japanese public because most of them have no tolerance for manifold opinions. Worse yet, they like to form the set of a big fish in a small pond; in fact, most of them are lions at home and mice abroad, by which I’m taken aback once in a while.
        I suspect that Prof. Robert J. Geller also feels like such.
        Sorry for my digression.


  4. “she didn’t come across with the professionalism one normally expects of a PI-class scientist”
    In exactly what way? Can you elaborate?


    • This is hard to explain, because it’s a subjective impression, but Dr. Obokata fell far short of the communication ability one would expect in a 30 year old scientist in a PI position (say, like an assistant professor in a US university, or sen-nin koshi=lecturer=a rank below assoc prof at a Japanese university).

      To take one example, at her press conference Dr. Obokata made the astonishing statement that she’d succeeded in making STAP cells over 200 times. But she didn’t follow it up by presenting any details to back this up, or any explanation of how she confirmed that they really were STAP cells. One has to wonder why, if this statement is correct, it wasn’t mentioned in the Nature paper.

      There also were other instances in the press conference where I thought she demonstrated a lack of understanding of how professional scientists should go about their business, but I’ll stop here.


    • She presented facts without data to back up her statement.

      From what I read Riken couldn’t access the data because she used her personal laptop. She could have cleared up the mouse image situation by showing the original picture which she did not.

      I would expect a PI, and a PhD holder, to clearly present data to back up the conclusion/statement she has made, not to keep saying she has seen it a few hundred times or willing to do it again.


    • The way she presented all her arguments, in defending herself against the conclusions by RIKEN, was made without showing any pieces of supporting evidence/data. I am quite disturbed by such a lack of basic scientific training from a PI.


  5. In terms of preparing to face with the Riken under law, her conference was successful. Besides, she mentioned she has seen the STAP cells 200 times. If it was true, that would be just good. If it was not true, she would be just explained that she was unstable when she mede this comment. She will be OK anyway. As the scientist, she would be protected as being said that she was unabe to be mature because nobody has taught her. Being a professional scientst with independent spirit is not required and known in the media in Japan.


  6. In good faith, I believe her statement that she had carried out 200 experiments to prove that STAP cells are real. But, why she couldn’t produce the laboratory note books openly, to convince her proponents that she in fact did carry out such experiments, from such a date (year-month-day) until such a date (year-month-day). This document would have been more convincing, than that of attorney-assisted apology to the public. A PI-grade scientist would have done this.


  7. Riken is a tax-funded, quasi-government organisation, which suggests it is a destination for “amakudari” (well-paid jobs for bureaucrats reaching retirement age).
    As with many such organisations, they tend not to be run as professionally as a private sector research body. This would explain the “Where were the mentors?” question.
    To me, it looks very much like the old boys network circling the wagons to protect themselves, quite happy to sacrifice a young female researcher.


    • “To me, it looks very much like the old boys network circling the wagons to protect themselves, quite happy to sacrifice a young female researcher.”

      This is exactly what it looks and feels like. There have been a number of scandals in the news lately – a number of high profile, old men with cushy amakudari positions making mind-numbingly stupid statements in public, and nothing – absolutely NOTHING – in the past six months has come close to the uproar surrounding this.

      The thing is, those old men have been making international news, making Japan look bad – a lot of guys in the government, the whaling situation, 2020 Olympic committee leaders, the entire executive staff of NHK. NONE of them have faced ANYTHING like the scrutiny that Dr. Obokata has.


  8. Looks like she is the fall girl…….for everyone involved:
    Harvard, Nature, Riken, business concerns and the lawyers!

    Great day for Science!

    Thanks!


      • That’s not surprising. The field of hematopoetic (stem) cells is mostly FACS data only. Cause all what you see from these cells in the microscope are round, detached single cells and you cannot discriminate beetween different (sub)populations by morphology. In this case a picture wouldn’t give you any meaningful information at all.


  9. FYI
    To be honest, I hesitated to write this.
    According to unconfirmed information, RIKEN and Obokata have already made a compromise with each other unbeknown to the public, the former promising to maintain the latter’s position on one hand, and the latter promising to fuss no longer about that study on the other. Simply put, her press conference yesterday could be all an act. Ridiculous as it may sound, I cannot deny its possibility though, feel free to interpret it arbitrarily, please.


  10. DR. Obokata said that there was an independent scientist who has reproduced her work. Do you think that she is referring to Prof. Lee from Hongkong? However, Prof Lee has stopped halfway.


  11. Hi guys,

    I wished to listen what Dr Niwa said in his press conference, but I couldn’t because I was traveling and it was exclusive to Japan National Press Club which I don’t belong to. Instead, I tuned into Dr Obokata’s, and now I regret my stupidity of the time. In any case, I just damp out what I heard.

    (1) Anything new on STAP cells?
    Not really, because it’s Dr Obokata’s counter attack on RIKEN’s final report which asserted that Dr Obokata committed to scientific misconducts. While Dr Obokata admitted her ‘innocent’ mistakes, she refused to retract Nature papers.

    As usual now you can stop reading this, but there is one thing I want to tell you before you leave (if you haven’t heard of). Dr Niwa distanced himself from the exaggerated STAP ‘phenomenon’ in his exclusive press conference. He said that STAP phenomenon is hypothetical at this point (i.e. not a experimentally confirmed fact). It contrasts clearly from what Dr Takeichi said in the press conference on Apr 1. Now even RIKEN is somewhat skeptical about STAP cells. This is a quite turnover as RIKEN initially kept saying ‘STAP cells exist no matter what you say.’

    Now dull parts start… Here is my best attempt to make it somewhat enjoyable.

    (i) What’s the point of Dr Obokata’s four lawyers?
    It’s simple: they argue that RIKEN defines that only ‘malicious’ conducts are misconducts. In their logic, Dr Obokata did no ‘malicious’ things, and thus RIKEN cannot ‘punish’ her. The term ‘malicious’ sounds a bit strange, but in the press conference on Apr 1, a RIKEN lawyer said he interpreted it as ‘intentional’.

    (ii) Lawyers vs scientists
    There is an apparent gap between their argument and the norm in science (here I mean real science not soft science). Scientific papers claim something: I did this, and then this was what I saw. For an average readers, it’s difficult to tell if that’s really happened. So we trust the description on papers. When this trust is undermined, the conclusion is hard to believe. Dr Obokata’s lawyers seem taking this aspect too lightly.

    (iii) Contradicting facts
    Dr Obokata’s claims contain many oddities. Let me break them into four.
    (a) Dr Obokata manipulated photos to make it look better. However on the other hand, she strangely scanned one of photos on her PhD thesis. By doing so, the image quality degraded. If she cares so much of photo appearance, why didn’t she put the original image on Nature paper?
    And this scanning photos of her own and subsequent editing of captions, is the weirdest thing I ever heard. I cannot imagine any ‘innocent’ motivation behind this.

    (b) Dr Obokata and her lawyers claimed that Dr Obokata was innocent just because she had ‘true’ photos. One of news reporters asked, how could we tell those photos were real? Then Dr Obokata claimed that she ‘knew’ it’s real because she ‘did’ the experiments and she wrote it down on her lab notebook. However, her notebooks are difficult to follow by others, and now let me think about the first part. I suppose Dr Obokata did her PhD thesis experiment, but she could not recall which photos were on her thesis, and that’s why she ‘innocently’ put it on Nature paper, right? So how can she be so sure it’s ‘true’ photos this time?

    (c) Dr Obokata claimed that she successfully created STAP cells more than 200 times, and even a third person succeeded. However she cannot disclose the detail of her STAP cells creation recipe, and the name of this third person. OK… let’s think about it. As of now, no lab reported any success on STAP cells (except RIKEN), and already many different recipes are on table. But Dr Obokata says that’s just because all recipes are wrong, and she will not disclose that easily. Come on, why?? Maybe she doesn’t understand properly in what situation she is in (according to her lawyers, she has been hospitalized for some reasons). But how is that possible? She booked a huge hotel hall to have a press conference of her own.
    At this rate, it’s quite possible she won’t have any chance to do an experiment again. If she has super-promising STAP cells recipe, why doesn’t she provide that to RIKEN and other labs willing to prove STAP cells exist? Also, let’s suppose this third person really exists, and then why does this person want to be anonymous? This person is supposed to be confident on the existence of STAP cells, and it’s a perfect timing to take all of attention from the world. Why did this guy/lady secretly inform Dr Obokata alone, and decide to hide from us?

    (d) Dr Obokata admitted that she asked her former supervisor about her PhD thesis retraction. Her thesis was furnished with full of academic misconducts one can think of, but she claimed that that was a draft. Even if it’s a first draft, it’s still unnatural as it contains a photo which is taken from website of CosmoBio and modified. If it’s a placeholder, there is no need to modify the photo at all.
    Somehow no one asked her in the press conference, but here is the strangest aspect of it. Say, she ‘accidentally’ submitted a fist draft of her thesis to Waseda University, and now she wants to do something about it. Then she must ask the university to ‘replace’ the draft with the final version, instead of asking ‘retraction’ of her thesis, right? With limited capacity of my brain, I cannot think of any ‘innocent’ story behind this.

    To summarize it, one sentence suffices: ‘No more saying but some clue please.’

    Have a good day,


      • Thank you Dr Geller for the link!

        Here is something I completely missed when I posted the message.
        What one of news reporters should have asked Dr Obokata was this one, ‘How much did OCT-4 increase w.r.t. the background level, when Dr Obokata claimed STAP cells were created?’ Although Dr Obokata admitted her clumsiness, she was so sure about STAP cells. With Dr Lee’s report and RIKEN’s preliminary claims on OCT-4 part, it’s not crazy to think that actually Dr Obokata observed increased OCT-4 after treating cells in acid bath. In her press conference, she said its’ not autofluorescence (of course no evidence given though).

        I hope someone will ask Dr Sasai about this when he will have another press conference, and he will give us a definitive answer on this. But maybe it’s impossible to trace that detail in Dr Obokata’s lab note.

        Best,


    • As a layman, there is something that I am puzzled. Dr. Obokata said she made STAP cells successfully for more than 200 times. If I successfully made a stem cell line, there will be many things that I can follow up and I will spend most of the time and resources to grow up the cells and then characterize them. If I want to optimize the protocol, I will repeat for 5 – 10 times, 20 times at maximum, to accumulate my confidence. Unless they are consumables, I cannot find any incentive to repeat it for more than 200 times.


  12. I try to review the Sasai article using Google translate but it did not make a lot of sense in the translated English.

    But its interesting to hear from Robert Geller that Dr Sasai is planning to hold a press conference next week on the STAP ‘phenomena’


  13. It is widely thought in Japan that Riken hurried along their investigation (interim report on March 14 followed by the final report only 2.5 weeks later on April 1) to achieve an appearance of closure, which was a necessary condition in order to get an upgrade in Riken’s corporate status. The upgrade would allow them to pay much higher salaries, among other things. The law to approve the upgrade must be submitted to Parliament by the end of April in order to be approved by the current session of Parliament.

    However, public opinion and also that of politicians appears to regard Riken’s investigation and Riken’s other actions to improve corporate governance as insufficient, and the government appears set not to submit the bill to the current Parliamentary session, according to reports in the Japanese media. http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/science/20140410-OYT1T50089.html


  14. Every time I write on STAP cells, I feel this is it: it’s just a waste of my time. But I cannot help doing it since always a new layer of oddities show up…

    So Dr Obokata released a new short document through her lawyers [1], saying news media didn’t understand it right. In short she said that she observed ‘green light’ more than 200 times, and she created teratoma and chimeric mice several times. We can draw two points from this.

    (1) For Dr Obokata, seeing ‘green light’ = ‘STAP cells’
    RIKEN rebutted immediately (in conjunction with the third person succeeded on STAP cells creation and RIKEN must know that fact), seeing ‘green light’ != ‘STAP cells’ (of course, it’s something discussed on Nature papers).

    (2) Then, here is another weird thing: Now she claims that she could have made teratoma and chimeric mice several times. I guess (though I’m not an expert at all) she might be able to create teratoma from something, but the chimeric mice couldn’t be made so easily. Indeed that was the primary reason to have Dr Wakayama who is well known experts on that kind of work, right? When STAP cells were still widely believed, Dr Wakayama had an interview [2]. Basically he said, after failed many times, he finally succeeded by cutting a chunk of cells into small pieces before injection. This cutting with a tiny knife is some old-school technique not everybody could perform.
    But OK, that doesn’t matter, Dr Obokata must have another secret chimeric mice creation recipe along with STAP cells one!?

    Cheers,

    [1] http://mainichi.jp/graph/obokata/0414/001.html (in Japanese)
    [2] http://www.asahi.com/articles/DA3S10964598.html (in Japanese, access restricted)


    • Just my second thought…

      It’s cumbersome to interpret the sentence ‘replicated teratoma and chimeric mice several times’. Most likely Dr Obotaka referred to what Dr Wakayama manged in the past (it’s unlikely given Dr Obokata’s inexperience). I thought that’s quite strange since Dr Wakayama lost his confidence in chimeric mice because Dr Obotaka gave him cells originated from a wrong mice strain.
      It’s most likely that Dr Obokata still believes that Dr Wakayama created chimeric mice from STAP stem cells despite of Dr Wakayama’s findings. Actually Dr Obokata implied that Dr Wakayama’s findings was due to his poor treatment of STAP stem cells, leading to some contamination.
      If we believe Dr Wakayama’s findings (DNA analysis done by a third party), then there is no clue of ‘AP’ of STAP (mod teratoma?). It also goes along with RIKEN’s claim: only replicated result is OCT-4 positive (I’m not sure what the criteria here, ten-hold, hundred-hold increase, etc?) but no evidence of pluri-potency. In any case, Dr Obokata believes ‘seeing green light’ equals to ‘STAP cell existence’.
      I wish RIKEN will verify what’s the necessary condition to declare ‘OCT-4 positive’. If it’s at or below ten-hold, then we can close this STAP mess negatively.

      Sorry for confusion if I created any,


  15. Apparently Vacanti held the keynote speech in Kyoto during int’l bronchiti conference where he showed different slides indicating the existence of the so-called STAP cells, reiterating the lack of any malice in the scientific mistakes of Nature papers and finally urging Obokata to go to Boston.

    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/science/20140415-OYT1T50120.html?from=ytop_top

    Being in social sciences, I am not familiar with hard sciences approaches, but in my understanding with our studies if you have trouble with the data and the method, you cannot claim, as Vacanti and Obokata do, that there is no impact on the results. We call it – wishful thinking.

    I do not know whether it has been known to this blog but Vacanti and Obokata had made an erratum on different paper of theirs, where once again they acknowledge the existence of mistakes in their data but do not indicate what the correct data is. (I read it on retractionwatch, but could not be arsed to look up the link)

    I am trying to say that Vacanti has made it scot-free so far. A closer look in his work and his lab’s, might indicate what the role of his involvement or mentoring was. My gut feeling is that he the prime propagator behind everything.

    Finally, RIKEN has come under severe scrutiny, for time being, for their budget allocation and using it up for buying expensive unnecessary……tools.


    • I forgot to mention that Obokata in her press conference said that she would announce the method for producing STAP cells in a new paper she intends to publish.

      She or her lawyer also denied that she intends to retract her PhD thesis and my memory is that they said that they would wait for the Waseda Uni decision on it. Waseda, in my mind, do not have any incentive to acknowledge en masse copy paste culture. It would depreciate the value of any degree from it. So,….

      In my understanding, she intends to work in academia and present herself as a victim of a misunderstanding. Vacanti’s call to her to get to States for me is just an indication of what she might be doing – going abroad and reemerging in Japan in near future.

      Even for a Japanese (high position bureaucrat), this is too thick.


  16. I’m surprised by the dearth of comments on Dr. Sasai’s presser. i could only see about half of it, but his answers didn’t really respond to the questions and his main defense was that his only involvement was in the writing and he was shocked, shocked to find FFP taking place. None of the correspondents at the presser (at least when I was watching), asked him about the “contributions” section of the Obokata et al. paper where it said he also did experiments and helped plan the study, which seems to contradict what he said at the presser.

    I don’t really think he did himself much good. What did other people think?


  17. Hi guys,

    Here is a brief summary of Dr Sasai’s press conference. I think it’s much clearer than other ones.

    First of all, Dr Sasai still believes in STAP cells. He phrased it this way, ‘STAP phenomenon is the best hypothesis to explain the data.’ His belief is based on two ‘facts.’
    (1) There were some cells turned on green after acid bath treatment, and it formed cell clusters. He went quite far to say that these cells were some kind of new cells even if it’s not STAP cells. For him, the level of OCT-4 increase was not important. There were some ‘small’ cells started glowing green and eventually formed a cluster. That is what they mean by ‘OCT-4 positive.’ According to Dr Sasai, since it’s ‘small,’ it’s not ES cells. Experts, is this true?

    (2) He also strongly believes that chimeric mice and placenta made by Dr Wakayama are counter evidence to the theory of ES cells contamination. It actually comes from Dr Niwa’s expertise. According to Dr Sasai, Dr Niwa analyzed Dr Wakayama’s and concluded that those were made from non-ES cells. So it must be made from something else.

    That’s all I got from it.


    • What means “small”? Murine ES cells are already quite small compared to other cell types. And if you apply some harsh conditions like the acid bath it has an effect on cell volume e.g. shrinkage through modification of proton or other pumps/exchanger.

      Alone if you change the media you have a nearly immediate cell volume response through a change in osmolarity and your cells will look differently depending when you will look on them. It only depends on the cell type how easily you will notify these changes because they are drastic or small.


  18. It seemed that Dr.Sasai won money for continuing this reserach at the Riken and protected his career after the press conference. Except for some professional scientists, many people would forget this issue eventually. Lucky for Dr. Vacanti.


  19. Where is VACANTI in all of this? Still on vacation in Mexico? All the senior Japanese scientists have publicly distanced themselves while the spotlights are glaring on Obokata, but shouldn’t the buck stop with last author Vacanti to?

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