Japan stem cell scientist stands by 'phoney' research

Japan stem cell scientist stands by 'phoney' research
Japan stem cell scientist issues apology
Haruko Obokata, a researcher at semi-governmental research institute RIKEN, wipes her tears during a news conference in Osaka

TOKYO - A young female scientist accused of fabricating data made a tearful apology live on Japanese television Wednesday for "mistakes" in her research, but insisted her ground-breaking conclusions on stem cells were accurate.

Haruko Obokata, 30, blamed her youth and inexperience for errors in her methodology, but said she had managed to create the building-block cells capable of growing into the specialised cells of the brain, liver, heart or kidneys.

"I apologise with my whole heart to my co-authors... and many others for causing trouble because of my insufficient efforts, ill-preparedness and unskilfulness," a visibly shaken Obokata told a press conference.

"To many people there may be too many unbelievable mistakes, but that does not affect the conclusion," she said.

Obokata was feted as a modern-day Marie Curie after unveiling research that showed a simple way to re-programme adult cells to become a kind of stem cell.

So-called Stimulus-Triggered Acquisition of Pluripotency (STAP) cells were hailed as a breakthrough that could provide a ready supply of the base material for much-needed transplant tissue at minimal cost.

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