Scientists debate, test Brigham and Women’s researcher’s acid stem cell technique

epa04047689 An undated handout picture made available by the Riken Institute on 30 January 2014 shows a mouse embryo generated from STAP cells. Haruko Obokata, a biologist researcher at the Center for Developmental Biology (CDB) of the Riken Institute, and her colleagues have developed a technique to create embryonic stem cells from a single white blood cell, solely by altering the environment in which the cell is stored. EPA/RIKEN HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES
A mouse embryo generated from STAP stem cells. RIKEN Institute/Haruko Obokata

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Already, scientists in laboratories across the world have begun dipping mature cells in acid, hoping to see whether this simple intervention really can trigger a transformation into stem cells, as reported by a team of Boston and Japanese researchers in January.

At the Harvard Stem Cell Institute, a number of scientists have embarked on the experiment, which they are informally calling “stem cell ceviche,” comparing it with the Latin American method of cooking seafood in lime and lemon juice.

The range of responses varies widely. Most scientists seem surprised and skeptical about the technique, but also impressed by the rigorous testing that experts in the field did on the cells.

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