Journal Says Flaws in Controversial Stem-Cell Paper Didn't Affect Results

June 13, 2007

Following the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities’ review of a controversial stem-cell study published in Nature, the journal announced today that its own investigation had found flaws in one of the paper’s figures but the overall conclusions unaffected by the problem. The authors of the paper published a correction to the figure today in Nature.

The original article reported in 2002 that adult stem cells were far more versatile than previously thought, challenging embryonic stem cells in their ability to transform into multiple tissue and organ types.

But other researchers had difficulty repeating the work, which was led by Catherine M. Verfaillie, then at the University of Minnesota. The university’s review panel concluded in February that elements of the paper were “significantly flawed,” but ascribed the problems to a mistake, not misconduct.

Another of Dr. Verfaillie’s papers has also come under scrutiny this year, for repeating an image in figures meant to represent two different results. —Lila Guterman