PubPeer strikes again: Leukemia paper retracted for image duplications

bbaIn July, a PubPeer commenter called out a paper in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta for image duplication; by September, the paper was retracted for the exact reason detailed in the anonymous comment.

Here’s the notice for “Effect of ST3GAL 4 and FUT 7 on sialyl Lewis X synthesis and multidrug resistance in human acute myeloid leukemia,” a paper initially published in June:

This article has been retracted at the request of the authors. It contained several inappropriate¬ly processed and incorrect Figures. On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author has taken full responsibility and apologizes to the readers of BBA Molecular Basis of Disease for submitting and publishing the erroneous article and any inconvenience caused.

An anonymous PubPeer commenter compiled the following criticism (click here or on the picture below for a larger image):

Concern about Figures 3, 5, and 7:

Several of the immunohistochemistry staining panels shown in Figures 3, 5, and 7 represent different experimental conditions, but appear to show overlapping areas and/or are very similar when flipped.
Here is a figure showing my concerns:

I am also concerned about two other papers from this group (DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0065218and DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0085113).

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 5.49.24 PM

A second anonymous commenter responded:

There is must be some mistake, and the incident was under investigation now. Thank you for your concern.

We’ve reached out to the authors and editor and will update with whatever we learn.





4 thoughts on “PubPeer strikes again: Leukemia paper retracted for image duplications”

  1. This is an extremely valuable and pertinent observation, and PubPeer has, as far as I can tell with my untrained eye, been exploding with comments in the past few weeks. PubPeer is certainly gaining traction. Regarding the fresh off the shelf JCI retraction, without wanting to insinuate anything, I did notice a Japanese name in there, Kazuhiro Ito. That reminded me of a name I had seen appearing in recent PubPeer posts quite frequently: Hiromichi Ito. One or two papers, one could refer to as random, but this many, it’s called a pattern.

    Maybe others could comment to get the discussion going based on this list:

    The other common denominator in those papers with many figures and other aspects being questions is Edward E. Whang, who features in other PubPeer entries, but without Hiromichi Ito:

    Other common denominators among several of these papers are Michael J. Zinner, Eric Benoit, Mark S. Duxbury and Stanley W. Ashley. I think that when we observe patterns like these, then it certainly is worthwhile exploring further. Of course, I amsure that the authors (all of them) and the editors of these journals (all of them) have been alerted to PubPeer, or have they? Does PubPeer have an alerting service that links the PubPeer entires with an automated alert service for editors and authors of papers associated with a PubPeer entry? That would make PubPeer extremely pertinent in PPPR.

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