Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Professor Sasai commits suicide

Professor Sasai of stem cell research fame has committed suicide. Why? He was the head of the group of the researchers who claimed in Nature, a famous scientific journal to have found the way to make mature blood cells transform into stem cells i.e. pluripotentive cells. This caused a great deal of excitement in medical circles because research findings had enormous potential for healing.
However, there was a failure by a couple of research groups to replicate the findings of Professor Sasai which has held such big promise for medicine. Questions were asked about research findings by Professor Sasai's group.
Investigations were conducted by Riken Centre whose President is a Nobel prize winner and where researchers worked. One of the researchers, Dr Haruko Obokata (very attractive on media) was found guilty of misconduct. Reports in the media vary as to what actually went wrong, if anything.
The suicide of Professor Sasai shocked many. He blamed himself for not supervising research adequately.
Photo JIJI press AFK photo. A cientista japonesa Haruhiko Obokata, que trabalhou com Sasai, participa de uma entrevista coletiva. Foto: JIJI PRESS/AFP Photo
                                                            The crying of Dr Haruko Obokata

Mainichi Shimbun claimed that they obtained scientific data which showed a decline in the pluripotency of new
cells on different days.This decline in pluripotency may have led to different conclusions Riken Centre claimed.
Hmmm. It is already known that there are problems with stem cells and their survival from different researchers. That science evolves over the years is also known. So, why all this drama?
Dr Obokata has remained commited to her paper findings.
It is rather unlikely that the suicide of Professor Sasai would be the end of his or Dr Obokata's work,
 or the current enormous interest in stem cell research.