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Scientist Live-Blogs His Lab's Attempts To Generate New Type of Stem Cells

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the in-real-time dept.

Biotech 20

sciencehabit (1205606) writes "In the latest twist in the story of STAP cells, a new kind of stem cell described in two Nature papers in January, a scientist is live-blogging his latest attempt to generate the cells. The papers described how subjecting cells from newborn mice to a mildly acidic solution turned them into pluripotent stem cells, the sought-after cells that can become all the body's cell types. Kenneth Ka-Ho Lee, a stem cell researcher at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, has already tried once to make the cells, following the methods published in Nature in January. That attempt failed, which Lee documented publicly on the website ResearchGate. The lack of success mirrors other reports from scientists around the world in the weeks since the papers were published, despite a more detailed set of methods posted by some of the authors on 5 March. Today, Lee posted in the comment section of his ResearchGate review that he had set up a team of four lab members to do the experiments. They will live blog the research, and promise frequent updates."

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stem cell beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46569015)

I bet that researcher is thinking 'fuck stem cell beta' :)

Where is the live blog address ? (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 6 months ago | (#46571563)

I must have missed something - I searched and searched but I just can't find that live blog address.

They say that they are going to carry out the test on 25th, March, 2014, (presumably Hong Kong time, as the research team is in Hong Kong) and I want to see/read how they carry out that experiment.

Re:Where is the live blog address ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46572197)

It is here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259984904_Stimulus-triggered_fate_conversion_of_somatic_cells_into_pluripotency/reviews/103

You have to scroll all the way down. Prof. Lee is using the "comment" functionality of ResearchGate's new "Open Review" feature to "live blog". :)

Mildly acidic solution (0)

volkerdi (9854) | about 6 months ago | (#46569055)

This technique works best when combined with cold fusion. Also, don't forget about step 3.

Re:Mildly acidic solution (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | about 6 months ago | (#46569325)

Personally I prefer a light lemon sauce.

Meh... BORING (-1, Offtopic)

CajunArson (465943) | about 6 months ago | (#46569099)

So all he's doing is a boring experiment and live-blogging it?

Sure, that kind of link-bait would have been fine back in 2002 when "blogs" were all cool.

If Slahdot's standards hadn't dropped so much recently he would have had to do the following things to get on the front page:
1. Print the rats with a a 3D printer.
2. Put the rats ON A DRONE.
3. Use the rat-drone to uncover a secret NSA program that has already produced the stem cells to INVADE OUR PRIVACY.
4. Prove that stem cells create global warming.
5. Write a lengthy academic paper that has nothing whatsoever to do with points 1-4 but instead states.. without coming to a firm conclusion.. that Christians* are inferior forms of life because jargon.

* But not muslims, because even though we talk the big talk we're really a bunch of sniveling cowards. Hey, tomorrow is Sharia tuesday!

Re: Meh... BORING (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46569187)

I am sure Muslims are banned from buying a 3d printer. If not yet, then soon. They likely are on the list ...

Re: Meh... BORING (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about 6 months ago | (#46569533)

They were banned from buying 2D printers for quite some long time, so why not 3D printers? ;-)

Re:Meh... BORING (1)

sexconker (1179573) | about 6 months ago | (#46569257)

So all he's doing is a boring experiment and live-blogging it?

Sure, that kind of link-bait would have been fine back in 2002 when "blogs" were all cool.

If Slahdot's standards hadn't dropped so much recently he would have had to do the following things to get on the front page:
1. Print the rats with a a 3D printer.
2. Put the rats ON A DRONE.
3. Use the rat-drone to uncover a secret NSA program that has already produced the stem cells to INVADE OUR PRIVACY.
4. Prove that stem cells create global warming.
5. Write a lengthy academic paper that has nothing whatsoever to do with points 1-4 but instead states.. without coming to a firm conclusion.. that Christians* are inferior forms of life because jargon.

* But not muslims, because even though we talk the big talk we're really a bunch of sniveling cowards. Hey, tomorrow is Sharia tuesday!

No Tesla or Bitcoin? Good luck hitting the front page.

Rat colonoscopies! (1)

oneiros27 (46144) | about 6 months ago | (#46569305)

Last month, I was at the International Digital Curation Conference, and Atel Butte started talking about outsourcing lab tests .... and put video of rat colonoscopies in the talk. It's about 32 min in, but you should watch the whole thing for the context:

  http://www.dcc.ac.uk/events/id... [dcc.ac.uk]

Re:Meh... BORING (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46569483)

Everyone in the cell biology field is raving about the STAP papers and outside of the authors, it has not been reproduced. This is why its a big deal.

Re:Meh... BORING (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about 6 months ago | (#46569851)

So all he's doing is a boring experiment and live-blogging it?

All experiments are boring to the layman without time compression. What's notable about this is the completely open approach to science, which has the potential (if widespread) to not only increase the speed of scientific progress by making results available immediately rather than eventually when a finished paper is whacked together, peer reviewed, and accepted; but also to help reduce the amount of bad science done as people have a chance to comment on results while an experiment is still in progress.

Real-time and transparent anything is potentially transformative.

Last entry.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about 6 months ago | (#46569269)

Another failure, but this one is ... moving... what is... Aaaaaargh......

Disproved? (2)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | about 6 months ago | (#46569315)

Wasn't that methodology disproved and the results of the original research shown to be fabricated? I thought /. had an article about that already.

Re:Disproved? (4, Informative)

Ambassador Kosh (18352) | about 6 months ago | (#46569559)

It is far more complex than that. There is a lot of doubt about the research but making stem cells is a process that is VERY hard to do even with protocols that we have fully diagnosed. With other techniques for induced pluripotent stem cells the results are usually 1% or less of the cells make the changes you want. Even if the paper had written down EVERYTHING that was done for the STAP cells there is no guarantee that it would work effectively for someone else until the protocol is nailed down better.

It does seem unlikely that the STAP research is correct but it is too soon to say that for sure and there is no way we can walk away from this kind of advance if it is at all possible.

The worst outcome would be if the STAP cells really do exist but was the result of sloppy technique and sloppy experimental documentation while having the paper also involve fraud. Under those conditions nobody else would be able to reproduce it since they would not make the same mistakes and the fraud involved would mean that it would be very hard for others to try similar experiments to figure out what really happened. If all we had was a shoddy experiment that happened to work but not fraud involved then there would be a LOT of work to figure out what really happened. This is why I hate all the cheating in scientific papers, not only does it damage that paper it also damages that entire line of inquiry.

Re:Disproved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46570035)

> Under those conditions nobody else would be able to reproduce it since they would not make the same mistakes...

Years ago I read this aphorism ascribed to Jane Heard:

"Self confidence is the ability to make the same mistake twice without getting nervous."

By the way, I play French horn when I'm not posting to slashdot.

Re:Disproved? (4, Informative)

RDW (41497) | about 6 months ago | (#46569613)

No, the results are not disproven and certainly not shown to be fabricated, though you could be forgiven for thinking otherwise after the feeding frenzy about this paper on the internet. There are certainly grounds for scepticism, though. We'll have to wait until this has been thoroughly tested using the more detailed protocols that have now been made available before we can call it one way or the other.

Re:Disproved? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46569691)

Nope. The authors and institute are still firm that the science is sound. What was found is that the lead author doctored up an image and made some mistakes. At best, she made mistakes. At worst she fabricated data. So far nobody has reproduced it, though. It remains to be seen.

Re:Disproved? (1)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46574285)

The first author's thesis had some plagiarism in it, that's a definite no-no but doesn't affect the science here per se, only the credibility. There are concerns over some of the figures, but I think the consensus is it's more likely just weird editing than fabrication: the images don't appear shopped, there's one image in particular that looks poorly compressed.

The biggest issue that is concrete is that the method was promoted as a super easy way to get stem cells pluripotent, so immediately many labs tried the methods and couldn't, so the authors issued a revised protocol. There's some technical oddities that the Knopfler blog goes in depth into, but bottom line is that this is NOT an easy way to make pluripotent stem cells. It could still most definitely turn out to be a GOOD way of making them. If it turns out you need to travel to that specific lab and use the specific pippetters that the senior author used and do everything EXACTLY identical, but you still get pluripotent cells without using cancer-causing genes, then that would still be nobel prize stuff, even though it was overhyped.

That said, I think few people expect it to pan out at this point given the above. So if I'm betting, yeah, it's not going to be repeated, but it is way too soon. I mean, the revised protocol came out less than a month ago. Induced pluripotent stem cells took a year to be repeated.

Oops (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 6 months ago | (#46572669)

Did I write down 'acid'? I meant 'base'. I'm always getting those two confused!
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