Published online 15 October 2008 | Nature 455, 849 (2008) | doi:10.1038/455849d

News in Brief

'Manipulated' stem-cell paper faces retraction

The University of Minnesota has asked the journal Blood to retract a high-profile paper on adult stem cells following a university investigation. The paper reported that mesenchymal stem cells isolated from adult bone marrow could generate a surprising number of tissues (M. Reyes et al. Blood 98 , 2615–2625; 2001), but other labs had trouble replicating that work. The investigation concluded that the paper included manipulated images.

Lead author Catherine Verfaillie, now director of the Stem Cell Institute at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, was cleared of academic misconduct but blamed for insufficient oversight. That suggests the blame rests with the only other scientist under investigation, Verfaillie's graduate student Morayma Reyes, now at the University of Washington. However, the findings regarding Reyes cannot be released because of privacy laws. Reyes says that she made "honest unintentional errors".

Problematic images were also identified in a patent and in articles published by the Journal of Clinical Investigation and Nature. But the university did not find sufficient evidence of misconduct in these incidents.

The University of Washington says it may decide to investigate Reyes. 

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