Errors cast doubt on landmark stem cell cloning paper

px Human embryonic stem cell colony phase
Human embryonic stem cell, via Wikimedia Commons.

Just recently, a paper in Cell by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Center has been dominating all discussions — scientific, ethical, political — on the human side of genetics. It was, supposedly, the first proven case of successful human cloning. We’ve already written a feature about it and shared several stories on the topic here at the GLP.

Now the scientific backlash has begun. Any piece of science that ruffles this many features is bound to receive extra scrutiny from the scientific community … and the initial results are not good. Errors — sloppy, embarrassing errors — are coming to light. According to New Scientist, “anonymous scientists noted online that his paper contains duplicated and mislabeled images and plots.”

The author has apparently acknowledged that there are errors, and is working on preparing a proper statement with the editors of his journal. He stands by his original claim. The gist of the criticism is an old saw in the world of science: the author rushed to publication, got too excited, made sloppy mistakes. Reuters points out (rightfully so) that the paper’s three-day turn around in the peer-review process is almost unheard of, raising doubts about how well Cell handled the publication process as well.

The history of human stem cell cloning is already famous for one false start. In 2004, South Korean researcher Hwang Woo-suk became infamous after his proclaimed success at cloning human stem cells was proven fraudulent.

From here out, everything will be in the hands of Mitalipov’s fellow scientists. To his credit, Mitalipov had apparently been in just as much of a rush distribute the stem cell lines he used to encourage his colleagues to replicate his results. Whether or not anyone else is able to replicate his success will be the true test of his claim.

Outbreak Daily Digest
Biotech Facts & Fallacies
Talking Biotech
Genetics Unzipped
can you boost your immune system to prevent coronavirus spread x

Video: How to boost your immune system to guard against COVID and other illnesses

Scientists have recently developed ways to measure your immune age. Fortunately, it turns out your immune age can go down ...
mag insects image superjumbo v

Disaster interrupted: Which farming system better preserves insect populations: Organic or conventional?

A three-year run of fragmentary Armageddon-like studies had primed the journalism pumps and settled the media framing about the future ...
dead bee desolate city

Are we facing an ‘Insect Apocalypse’ caused by ‘intensive, industrial’ farming and agricultural chemicals? The media say yes; Science says ‘no’

The media call it the “Insect Apocalypse”. In the past three years, the phrase has become an accepted truth of ...
globalmethanebudget globalcarbonproject cropped x

Infographic: Cows cause climate change? Agriculture scientist says ‘belching bovines’ get too much blame

A recent interview by Caroline Stocks, a UK journalist who writes about food, agriculture and the environment, of air quality ...
organic hillside sweet corn x

Organic v conventional using GMOs: Which is the more sustainable farming?

Many consumers spend more for organic food to avoid genetically modified products in part because they believe that “industrial agriculture” ...
benjamin franklin x

Are most GMO safety studies funded by industry?

The assertion that biotech companies do the research and the government just signs off on it is false ...
gmo corn field x

Do GMO Bt (insect-resistant) crops pose a threat to human health or the environment?

Bt is a bacterium found organically in the soil. It is extremely effective in repelling or killing target insects but ...

Environmental Working Group: EWG challenges safety of GMOs, food pesticide residues

Known by some as the "Environmental Worrying Group," EWG lobbies for tighter GMO legislation and famously puts out annual "dirty dozen" list of fruits and ...
m hansen

Michael Hansen: Architect of Consumers Union ongoing anti-GMO campaign

Michael K. Hansen (born 1956) is thought by critics to be the prime mover behind the ongoing campaign against agricultural biotechnology at Consumer Reports. He is an ...
News on human & agricultural genetics and biotechnology delivered to your inbox.
Optional. Mail on special occasions.
Send this to a friend