A natural disaster is to blame for a retraction about lethal brain tumors. At least, that’s where the authors say the problem started: with a 2010 earthquake that caused a loss of “substantial data.”
The paper, “Superoxide-dependent uptake of vitamin C in human glioma cells,” looks at how the cells of lethal brain tumors interact with the vitamin commonly used to reduce side effects of therapies.
Post earthquake, someone digitally filled in a western blot analysis of proteins from a cell line and rat brains, as a “temporary solution.” And then the temporary solution made its way into the Journal of Neurochemistry.
Here’s the retraction note from the journal, including an image of the sneaky western blot:
A lane of a western blot image in the above referenced paper has been duplicated as control lanes. Control lanes 4, 5 and 6 of Fig. 2(b) have been reused from the top part of lane 2. The authors have explained that after losing substantial data after an earthquake in 2010, a series of digital representations were created as a temporary solution and inserted as place holders to determine which experiments needed to be repeated. However, the placeholders for control lanes 4, 5 and 6 for Fig. 2(b) were still present at the time of submission.
A commenter on PubPeer raised concerns about figure 2b last year.
We are not sure exactly how the data were lost during the earthquake. In February, 2010, Chile was hit with an 8.8 magnitude earthquake that killed hundreds of people.
To obtain more information, we contacted the corresponding author Francisco Nualart, Departamento de Biología Celular, Facultad de Ciencias Biológicas in Chile. We also asked Journal of Neurochemistry editor Jörg B. Schulz for further comment, too. We will update if either gets back to us.
Hat tip: Rolf Degen
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