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Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Cancer biology group notches sixth retraction, and earns an Expression of Concern

with 9 comments

bjcA group at the University of Texas Southwestern that retracted five papers last year has retracted one more, and has had a paper subjected to an Expression of Concern at the request of the school’s dean.

Here’s the retraction notice for “DNA methylation-associated inactivation of TGFβ-related genes, DRM/Gremlin, RUNX3, and HPP1 in human cancers,” originally published in the British Journal of Cancer and cited 51 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge:

An Internal Review Committee at UT Southwestern Medical Center found evidence of improper manipulation and replication of figures in this paper. A subsequent review by Dr Gazdar and his staff has independently confirmed the Committee’s findings.

In this paper, the GAPDH loading controls, specifically Figures 1A and B (p. 1030), appear to be identical to Figures 1A and B published in a subsequent paper (Suzuki et al, 2007). The authors have therefore recommended the retraction of the manuscript to the Editor-in-Chief of British Journal of Cancer.

Dr Suzuki, Dr Gazdar and their co-authors sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused the readers of the British Journal of Cancer.

The team had another paper retracted from the same journal earlier this year, “Aberrant methylation of SPARC in human lung cancers.” That paper, which group leader Adi Gazdar told us last year would be retracted and was one of the five we counted then, was cited 45 times. Here’s the notice:

An Internal Review Committee at UT Southwestern Medical Center found evidence of improper replication of figures in this paper. A subsequent review by Dr Gazdar and his staff has independently confirmed the Committee’s findings. In this paper, the GAPDH loading controls, specifically lanes 4–12 of Figure 1A and C (p 944), appear to be identical. The authors have therefore recommended the retraction of the manuscript to the Editor-in-Chief of British Journal of Cancer.

Dr Suzuki, Dr Gazdar and their co-authors sincerely apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused the readers of the British Journal of Cancer.

Similarly, here’s the retraction notice for a Clinical Cancer Research paper Gazdar had said would be retracted, “DNA methylation profiles of lymphoid and hematopoietic malignancies:”

The authors wish to retract the article titled “DNA Methylation Profiles of Lymphoid and Hematopoietic Malignancies,” which was published in the May 1, 2004, issue of Clinical Cancer Research (1).

After a thorough institutional investigation, it was concluded that there was incontrovertible evidence of improper manipulation of figures. It seems that the GAPDH loading controls of Fig. 1B—CDH13 and Fig. 1B—DcR1 (p. 2931) were created by manipulating (cropping of various lanes) Fig. 1A of the referenced article. Dr. Takao Takahashi has accepted the responsibility for Fig. 1B.

That paper has been cited 54 times.

Finally, here’s the new Expression of Concern for a paper that first appeared in Cancer Biology & Therapy:

The Editors were recently provided information regarding evidence of image manipulation in a research paper published in Cancer Biology & Therapy in 2002. Uncertainty exists as to the impropriety of the manipulation. The publisher was notified by the senior author at the request of the Dean of Southwestern Medical School to publish an Expression of Concern regarding “Differential Inactivation of Caspase-8 in Lung Cancers” (10.4161/cbt.1.1.45), a research paper by Narayan Shivapurkar, Shinichi Toyooka, Michael T Eby, Chun Xian Huang, Ubaradka G Sathyanarayana, H Thomas Cunningham, Jyotsna L Reddy, Elizabeth Brambilla, Takashi Takahashi, John D Minna, Preet M Chaudhary, and Adi F Gazdar. The allegations concern Figure 3. The original published figure is shown here:

cbt.26923-F1.tif

The evidence provided regarding image manipulation is shown here:

cbt.26923-F2.tifThe paper has been cited 76 times.

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9 Responses

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  1. Tenure and promotion decisions should not be based on publications. This is the root cause of all this mess.
    Because research findings can have a tremendous impact on the people health, their wealth and their environment, research should be carried out by impartial, credible and accountable agencies in pursuit of the truth and nothing but the truth..

    aceil

    December 16, 2013 at 12:24 pm

    • what are the alternatives? FUnding?

      KK

      December 16, 2013 at 6:04 pm

  2. So that’s how easy it is to check for image manipulation – just run published gel images through photoshop adjusting for contrast, reducing to grayscale, then progressively posterise until you get the lowest pixel density to reveal the background. Interesting.

    Chip_MoMo (@Chip_Molly)

    December 16, 2013 at 1:38 pm

    • On the Office of Research Integrity website has published freely downloadable forensic tools for image testing. The “droplets” are macros for Photoshop, plus they now have the same tools with a GUI attached. Extremely helpful, makes forensic image analysis child’s play.

      http://ori.hhs.gov/forensic-tools

      BoDuke

      December 16, 2013 at 2:42 pm

  3. “In this paper, the GAPDH loading controls, specifically Figures 1A and B (p. 1030), appear to be identical to Figures 1A and B published in a subsequent paper (Suzuki et al, 2007).”

    Ann Surg Oncol. 2007 Apr;14(4):1397-404
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=17195088

    Anything known about the fate of the subsequent paper?

    david hardman

    December 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm

  4. Hey NIH, there are lots of researchers out there who need funding and aren’t publishing tons of shady results. Just saying…

    The Iron Chemist

    December 16, 2013 at 4:00 pm

  5. In “which group leader Ali Gazdar told us last year would…”, Ali should be replaced by Adi.

    Akhlesh

    December 17, 2013 at 8:05 am

  6. Interesting wording in the BJC retractions…”GAPDH loading controls…appear to be identical”. Since the authors are “recommending” the retractions, surely they could whether they are identical or not? It’s also interesting that the Cancer Biology and Therapy paper appears to have a fabricated Caspase 8 gel (not just a loading control), and it resulted in an Expression of Concern rather than a retraction…

    Freeloader

    December 17, 2013 at 9:23 am


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