It’s not a tumor: Authors retract 2005 Cancer Research paper linking adult stem cells to cancer

The authors of a 2005 Cancer Research paper that cast some doubt on the safety of a population of adult stem cells used frequently in research have retracted it. According to the retraction, in the August 15 issue of the journal:

Upon review of the data published in this article, the authors have been unable to reproduce some of the reported spontaneous transformation events and suspect the phenomenon is due to a cross-contamination artifact.

Transformation refers to changes in the cells that make them “immortal” — think HeLa cells, made popular by Rebecca Skloot’s book about Henrietta Lacks — and cancer-like. Continue reading It’s not a tumor: Authors retract 2005 Cancer Research paper linking adult stem cells to cancer

American Cancer Society drops ‘Screening is Seeing’ ad campaign

When we started Retraction Watch, Gary Schwitzer suggested that one of us might be a vampire.

Well, Schwitzer, let us say this: You are no Jesus.

However, criticism leveled by Schwitzer at an American Cancer Society (ACS) ad campaign earlier this week has accomplished the Retraction Watch equivalent of turning water into wine. The campaign, he wrote, Continue reading American Cancer Society drops ‘Screening is Seeing’ ad campaign

The shroud of retraction: Virology Journal withdraws paper about whether Christ cured a woman with flu

Jesus healing a bleeding woman, courtesy http://campus.belmont.edu/honors/CatPix/womanblood.jpg via Wikipedia

It takes decades, and even centuries, to overturn the Catholic canon of law, but medical journals move much more quickly: Just three weeks after the Virology Journal published a paper speculating that a woman described in the Bible as being “cured by our Lord Jesus Christ” had flu, the journal has apologized for ever posting it online.

After bemused — to put it mildly — reactions from bloggers Bob O’Hara (who alerted us to the retraction), P.Z. Myers, and Tara C. Smith, as well as questions from a journal reader, the journal’s editor, Robert F. Garry, posted a retraction to O’Hara’s blog, and in his own journal: Continue reading The shroud of retraction: Virology Journal withdraws paper about whether Christ cured a woman with flu

Monkey business? 2002 Cognition paper retracted as prominent psychologist Marc Hauser takes leave from Harvard

Marc Hauser, a prominent Harvard psychology researcher and author, will be taking a leave of absence from the university following “a lengthy internal investigation found evidence of scientific misconduct in his laboratory” that has led to the retraction of one of his papers, according to The Boston Globe.

The retraction, of a 2002 paper in Cognition, reads, in part: “An internal examination at Harvard University . . . found that the data do not support the reported findings. We therefore are retracting this article,” the Globe reports.  It also includes the sentence “MH accepts responsibility for the error.”

The retraction notice does not yet appear anywhere on the journal’s site, where the PDF version of the study is still available, nor on the Medline abstract. Its circumstances appear to be atypical, according to the Globe: Continue reading Monkey business? 2002 Cognition paper retracted as prominent psychologist Marc Hauser takes leave from Harvard

Science wants “reactome array” enzyme chip authors to retract paper

Following an investigation into an October 2009 study in Science that claimed to have proven the ability of a device to measure all of the enzyme activity in a cell at a particular time, the journal has asked the study’s authors to retract the paper, Science‘s news blog, ScienceInsider, reported on Friday.

The move comes after Bruce Alberts, Science‘s editor in chief, issued an Editorial Expression of Concern in December in response to concerns raised by other scientists

to alert our readers to thefact that serious questions have been raised about the methodsand data presented in this article. The questions focus in particularon the synthesis of the dye-labeled metabolites that are centralto the microarray technique. In addition, the spectroscopicdata the authors cite in support of their claim were not postedto the Bangor University School of Biological Sciences Web siteat the time of publication, despite the authors’ indicationin the Supporting Online Material that the data would be soposted. In response to inquiries from Science, the authors haveprovided new descriptions of the synthetic methods that differsubstantially from those in their published article. Based onour original concerns and the authors’ response, Science hasrequested evaluation of the original data and records by officialsat the authors’ institutions: These officials have agreed toundertake this task.

That evaluation, reported late last month by Nature, concluded Continue reading Science wants “reactome array” enzyme chip authors to retract paper

2005 PNAS Arabidopsis cold sensitivity gene paper retracted

There’s a retraction this week from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of a paper that first appeared online on July 1, 2005 (and which is still available, but notes under “this article” that “a retraction has been published”). The paper reports on a study that allegedly found a gene that made Arabidopsis plants — a favorite model of molecular biologists — “extremely sensitive to freezing temperatures, completely unable to acclimate to the cold,” and very sensitive to salt.

In other words, the Arabidopsis version of our relatives in Florida.

From the retraction:
Continue reading 2005 PNAS Arabidopsis cold sensitivity gene paper retracted

Why write a blog about retractions?

Post by Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus

The unfolding drama of Anil Potti — a Duke researcher who posed as a Rhodes Scholar and appears to have invented key statistical analyses in a study of how breast cancer responds to chemotherapy — has sent ripples of angst through the cancer community. Potti’s antics prompted editors of The Lancet Oncology to issue an “expression of concern” — a Britishism that might be better expressed as “Holy Shit!” — about the validity of a 2007 paper in their journal by Potti and others.

Unlike newspapers, which strive for celerity as much as accuracy, science journals have the luxury of time. Thorough vetting, through editorial boards, peer reviewers and other filters, is the coin of the realm.

And yet mistakes happen. Sometimes these slips are merely technical, requiring nothing more than an erratum notice calling attention to a backwards figure or an incorrect address for reprints. Less often but far more important are the times when the blunders require that an entire article be pulled. For a glossary of the spectrum between erratum and retraction — including expression of concern — see this piece, commissioned by one of us, Ivan, while he was at The Scientist.

Retractions are born of many mothers. Fraud is the most titillating reason, and mercifully the most rare, but when it happens the results can be devastating. Consider the case of Scott Reuben, a prodigiously dishonest anesthesiologist whose fabrications led to the retraction of more than a score of papers and deeply rattled an entire medical specialty. (One of us, Adam, broke that story.)

So why write a blog on retractions? Continue reading Why write a blog about retractions?