At the end of this past January, the scientific journal Nature published a paper submitted by researchers in Japan and the U.S. about a revolutionary way of creating stem cells from adult cells in a process that would take less time than the process Dr. Yamanaka developed for which he won the Nobel Prize. Sadly, this research has turned out to be too good to be true.
The researcher in Japan, Haruko Obokata, has been accused of fabricating or misrepresenting her research by the institute where she conducted it. While denying misconduct, she has conceded there are errors in the research and agreed to retract the study along with its co-authors. Nature has also published a retraction and is reexamining its procedures for accepting papers to better ensure this does not happen again.
This is heartbreaking news for us in the Parkinson’s community since stem cells are being investigated as a method of treating the disease. We can only hope that the next discovery about stem cells will be based upon sound, ethical research and represent progress in the treatment and eventual cure of Parkinson’s.