Somatic something similar to embryonic stem cells.

Somatic cells which were put into low
pH medium, became stimulus triggered acquisition of pluripotency
(STAP) cells that can transform into any type of cell in the body. In
order to determine that the created cells are pluripotent or not, so
Obokata injected Green Fluorescent Protein tagged cells into a mouse
embryo. If the cells were pluripotent, then they would appear in all
of the tissues of the mouse. The experiment was successful because
the whole mouse embryo became green. The method was easier than the
previous ones because it did not require nuclear transfer. Obokata
noticed that STAP cells can become cells that make up the placenta
and this was a unique attribute compared to induced pluripotent stem
cells and embryonic stem cells.(Cyranoski, 2014)
When STAP cells were treated by ACTH
and LIF, they became STAP stem cells which could not become the cell
of placenta and could not play a part in trophoblast marker
expression. On the other hand, when STAP cells were treated with Fgf,
they produced a growing number of stem cells with increased
trophoblastic features. If we compare trophoblast stem cells with
stem cells created by STAP cells which were treated by Fgf4, we can
notice that the STAP stem cells can become both embryonic and
placental tissues’ cells in vivo.

In 500 words maximum,
describe the ‘fallout’ from this paper’s publication over the
subsequent months and years. What happened, when, and to whom?

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On the 30th of January in 2014
Obokata, head of her laboratory at
the Riken Centre for Developmental Biology,
published two breakthrough articles in Nature. She and her colleagues
transformed the mouse blood cells into something similar to embryonic
stem cells. She put the blood cells in citric acid and waited for
half an hour. After that, the cells could reproduce and turn into any
type of cell in the body. So the blood cells became pluripotent.
After her two articles was
published, many allegations appeared in science blogs and on Twitter.
She put images in her article which looked doctored and parts of her
articles were copied from another paper. (Rasko and Power, 2015) A
figure, that showed electrophoresis gels, was problematic. In a
diagram one lane was switched to another. She did this because the
other lane was clearer. According to a committee, the switch was
intentionally misleading manipulation. Obokata used a figure in one
of her articles from her doctoral thesis that showed teratoma cells,
which had a broad-ranging developmental capacity made by putting
pressure on the membrane of the cells by pipette. However, in her
article she said that the cells had been stressed by acid. Obokata
said that it was an unintentional mistake. However, the committee
noticed that the captions were different, so the mistake was
intentional. (Cyranoski, 2014)
Riken began investigating and on
the 1st of April, Obokata was found to be guilty due to scientific
misconduct. Obokata apologised for all her mistakes, but she still
claimed that STAP (“stimulus-triggered acquisition of
pluripotency”) cells exist. Although her experimental procedure was
simple, no one could repeat it. So those who tried to do it, asked
Nature to retract Obokata’s articles. In June, Obokata also asked
Nature to retract her articles. Subsequently, genetic analysis
demonstrated that the STAP cells are not from those mice, which were
mentioned in the article. People found out that her STAP cells were
just embryonic stem cells, which were taken from the freezer and
relabelled. (Rasko and Power, 2015)
Yoshiki Sasai, who was Obokata’s
supervisor, was one of those who has been criticised. Sasai was
overwhelmed with shame. In early August, after a month in the
hospital for depression, Sasai committed suicide. She left behind
three farewell notes. One of them was addressed to Obokata and it
asked Obokata to reproduce STAP cells. Riken gave an opportunity to
Obokata and her team to make Sasai’s request possible. Obokata and
her team tried to reproduce STAP cells for eight months and in
December, they admitted that they cannot create STAP cells again.
Obokata was baffled by the fact that they could not reproduce STAP
cells and Obokata resigned. At the end of the year, Riken wrote a
final report about the happenings. The report said that Obokata had
falsified and fabricated data so her STAP cells were actually
embryonic stem cells and the swap was not accidental, although there
is not any proof that says the opposite. (Rasko and Power, 2015)

In 500 words maximum,
write a summary of your views on the ethics and the personal
motivation/psychology that drove Obokata to this level of
misconduct. Additionally, what is your opinion on the
institutional/scientific journal/media handling of this case?

I think, stem cell
therapy was a growing area that attracted a lot of people
who wanted to revolutionize science. Therefore researchers,
such as Obokata, who felt potential in themselves for
inventing something, could become at least rich but winning
the Nobel prize was also possible for them. However, in
this research area there were many unexplainable findings
so the researcher had to figure out which information is
important and which is not, so I think, it was really easy
to make mistakes in articles related to topics in this
research area. Therefore in laboratories where people do
research in stem cell therapy the atmosphere should not be
giddy and intense instead it should create a feeling in
everybody that concentration is important in this
laboratory in order to make a precise work. (Goodyear,
2016)  

Obokata falsified and fabricated data
in her articles. Mainly, she did these because of arrogance and
negligence but she also had a desire for fame, appreciation and
money. She also wanted to prove the world that she can do it. (Rasko
and Power, 2015) She was also really interested in her research topic
because in one of her interviews she said that she could not stop
thinking about it. (Goodyear, 2016)
When Obokata started to work in
Vacanti’s laboratory she was hardworking and open-minded. So
Vacanti decided to trust in Obokata and tell her his theory about
STAP cells. Vacanti could not have made the research because he was
not an expert in it. When Obokata became famous Vacanti could not be
her narrative and in one of Obokata’s interviews Obokata explained
her research as if STAP cells were her own idea. (Goodyear, 2016) In
my point of view, it was very unethical because Vacanti trusted her
and provided all of his equipments for her research and Obokata stole
his idea and did not share any prestige.
Stem cell research are very popular
because people would like to understand their origin and would like
to cheat death. It is a very competitive research field that requires
immagination so this field could give challenges to Obokata. Obokata
may have wanted to prove that she is able to invent something just
like Shinya Yamanaka who got a Nobel prize in
stem cell research not long ago. Obokata wanted fame right away, In
the US, Obokata had more friends who were older than her and had more
power, so these also made her want to prove that she can be more
successful. During her research, Vacanti told Obokata that she can be
the most famous female scientist in Japan and this also triggered her
actions. (Goodyear, 2016 New Yorker)
In my opinion,
the press can be blamed for the happenings because it created
international sensation right away even though nobody tried to
reproduce STAP cells. After researchers tried to make them and
failed, the media was very happy to make her feel bad about her
scientific misconduct. (Rasko and Power, 2015)