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Genetic tests suggest STAP stem cells ‘never existed’

Reports of a new kind of stem cell, produced by simply stressing mature mouse cells, kicked up a storm of controversy soon after their publication in Nature on 30 January. Duplicated and manipulated images as well as plagiarism were found in the two papers, which led to a verdict of misconduct for the lead author, Haruko Obokata of the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Kobe, Japan. There have also been calls for a retraction (which, for at least one of the papers, looks increasingly likely). But the controversy has left open a key question: does the phenomenon, known as stimulus-triggered acquisition of pluripotency, or STAP, exist? 

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