A Japanese research institute said Tuesday it will punish a scientist after a probe found a ground-breaking study on the production of stem cells was fabricated.
Riken Institute head, Ryoji Noyori, who jointly won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 2001, said in a statement he will "rigorously punish relevant people after procedures in a disciplinary committee."
The punishment is expected to be meted out to lead researcher Haruko Obokata and her more experienced colleagues.
The move is a huge blow to what was touted as a game-changing discovery, published by 30-year-old Obokata along with other Japanese researchers and a US-based scientist in the January edition of British journal Nature.
The study outlined a relatively simple way to grow transplant tissue in the lab by converting regular adult cells into a kind of stem cell -- a cell that has the potential to become differentiated into the various specialized cells that make up the brain, heart, kidneys and other organs.
But it faced questions after the respected institute, which sponsored the study, launched an inquiry last month over the credibility of its data.