Top journal retracts 'game-changer' stem-cell study

PARIS (AFP) - Leading science journal Nature is withdrawing a stem-cell study published in January that had been hailed as a "game-changer" in the quest to grow transplant tissue.

The announcement on Wednesday came after mistakes were discovered in some data published in two papers, photograph captions were found to be misleading, and the work itself could not be repeated by other scientists, it said.

"All co-authors of both papers have finally concluded that they cannot stand behind the papers, and have decided to retract them," the journal said in an editorial.

Nature said it would tighten up procedures to vet future studies submitted for publication.

On June 4, Japan's Riken research institute said lead scientist Haruko Obotaka, 30, had agreed to retract the papers after an investigation.

Obokata was feted after unveiling findings that appeared to show a straight-forward way to reprogramme adult cells to become stem cells - precursors that are capable of developing into any other cell in the human body.

Identifying a readily-manufacturable supply of stem cells could one day help meet a need for transplant tissues, or even whole organs.