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Cell Investigating Breakthrough Stem Cell Paper

Eight years after South Korean stem cell scientists were exposed in one of the biggest scientific frauds ever, a paper claiming to have achieved work they faked is itself under investigation.

Last week, a group led by Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Beaverton reported in Cell that it had used cloning to make personalized human embryonic stem cells (hESCs). The news was widely covered (including in Science) that Woo-Suk Hwang and his team claimed to have created individually tailored hESCs by cloning skin cells. That report, in Science, soon unraveled when it was found that the team had manipulated images and faked their data.

After last week's report, a commenter on PubPeer, a site dedicated to postpublication peer review, alleged several instances of "image reuse" in the Cell paper. The commenter also noted that "in the paper, it is recorded that the journal Cell accepted this paper just 4 days after submission."

The claims of image inconsistencies were enough to pique the journal's concern. "I can confirm that our editorial team is assessing the allegations brought up in the PubPeer piece," writes Cell spokesperson Mary Beth O'Leary in an e-mail to ScienceInsider. "I will get back to you as soon as they have fully investigated the claims raised in PubPeer."