Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘sweden retractions’ Category

“It’s been three tough years:” Macchiarini whistleblower cleared of previous charges

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Karl-Henrik Grinnemo

Karl-Henrik Grinnemo was worried. The doctor and clinical researcher at the Karolinska Institute was working with a high-profile surgeon who was performing a potentially life-saving procedure on patients, but Grinnemo saw that the patients weren’t doing very well. So in 2013, Grinnemo and three other doctors raised concerns about the work of Paolo Macchiarini. The surgeon initially fought back, and accused Grinnemo of misconduct. KI sided with the star surgeon, and found Grinnemo guilty of “carelessness” in a grant application to the Swedish Research Council, including plagiarism. Readers should by now know how the story ends – Macchiarini’s work has since been largely discredited. Recently, to clear his name, Grinnemo asked authorities to take a second look at his case – and he has been exonerated. We talked to him about the last few tumultuous years. 

Retraction Watch: How does the story begin?

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Written by Alison McCook

March 24th, 2017 at 11:30 am

Macchiarini blames Karolinska for losing data as he retracts 2014 paper

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Ask and ye shall receive: A journal has retracted a 2014 paper by Paolo Macchiarini, upon request from the Karolinska Institutet (KI).

The latest news is only one step in a long-running saga about former star surgeon Macchiarini, who was dismissed from KI last year. To read more, check out our timeline.

KI announced it was asking the journal to pull the paper late last year, after concluding that four authors — including Macchiarini — were guilty of scientific misconduct. The paper had already been flagged by the journal with an expression of concern, noting the data presented in the paper may not be “fully representative” of the experiments.

Today, the journal issued a retraction notice, saying the authors wanted to retract the paper. All of the authors who could be reached have agreed to the retraction, including Macchiarini.

Here’s more from the notice:

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Huh? Cancer paper gets retracted because of its correction

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Here’s a rather odd case: When readers raised issues about some of the images in a 2008 cancer paper, the authors issued a correction last year. But when readers asked additional questions about the corrected images, the authors decided to retract the paper entirely, along with its correction.

Both the original and corrected versions were questioned on PubPeer.

Here’s the retraction notice for the 2008 article “PRIMA-1MET induces mitochondrial apoptosis through activation of caspase-2,” published in Oncogene, which includes a link to the July 2016 correction: Read the rest of this entry »

Coauthor’s past misconduct prompts dep’t chair to retract Diabetes study

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A department chair of a Swedish university asked to retract a 2010 study in Diabetes after none of the authors could explain image-related ambiguities.

The matter prompted particular attention because the paper’s first author, Pontus Almer Boström, had been found guilty of scientific misconduct by the University of Gothenburg in 2012, after Jan Borén noted some irregularities in data calculated by Boström. At that point, the research group combed the data to identify further issues arising from Boström’s work, and didn’t find any.

But last summer, when a user on PubPeer raised questions about some of the images in the 2010 paper, the matter was brought back into focus. According to Borén, they found “no evidence of scientific misconduct in this study.” But Boström had left the university in 2009 and could not be reached, the corresponding author had passed away, and the remaining co-authors hadn’t stayed in the field. So Borén decided it would be best to retract the study to avoid any “lingering questions.”

Here’s the retraction notice for “The SNARE Protein SNAP23 and the SNARE-Interacting Protein Munc18c in Human Skeletal Muscle Are Implicated in Insulin Resistance/Type 2 Diabetes,” in which Borén thanks “Peer 1″ on PubPeer for “detecting the ambiguities and bringing them to our attention:” Read the rest of this entry »

Karolinska requests retraction of 2014 Macchiarini paper

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Paolo Macchiarini

It has been a tough couple of years for surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, once lauded for pioneering a groundbreaking procedure to transplant tracheas.

After a series of documentaries prompted his former employer, Karolinska Institutet (KI), to reopen a misconduct investigation against him, KI has today released one verdict regarding a 2014 Nature Communications paper: guilty.

KI said it is contacting the journal to request a retraction of the paper, which has already been flagged with an expression of concern.

Here’s more from a release from the institution: Read the rest of this entry »

Stolen data prompts Science to flag debated study of fish and plastics

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scienceIn August, Science told us it was considering adding an Expression of Concern to a high-profile paper about how human pollution is harming fish — and yesterday, the journal did it.

The move comes after a group of researchers alleged the paper contains missing data, and the authors followed a problematic methodology. In September, however, the co-authors’ institution, Uppsala University in Sweden, concluded there wasn’t enough evidence to launch a misconduct investigation.

The notice from Science stems from the theft of a computer carrying some of the paper’s raw data, making it impossible to reproduce some of its findings: Read the rest of this entry »

Macchiarini paper in Nature journal earns expression of concern for data questions

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nature-communications-228x300Nature Communications has issued an expression of concern for a 2014 paper by beleaguered surgeon Paolo Macchiarini, citing concerns over whether the paper accurately reports the experiments that were carried out.

According to the notice, Macchiarini, a former rising star in the field of transplant medicine, agrees with the expression of concern. Three of his 22 co-authors have objected.

Experimental orthotopic transplantation of a tissue-engineered oesophagus in rats” describes transplanting an esophagus into rats that was seeded with their own stem cells, and notes that all animals survived the study period (14 days), and gained more weight than rats given a placebo operation. It’s a topic Macchiarini has made famous, as the first surgeon to perform a similar procedure with a human tracheal transplant. But he’s faced charges of misconduct in the last few years, resulting in his dismissal from Karolinska Institutet (KI).

Here’s the text of the notice, scheduled to go live at 10 a.m. UK time today: Read the rest of this entry »

Inquiry finds no evidence of misconduct in high-profile Science paper flagged by allegations

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scienceAn expert group at Uppsala University has recommended not proceeding with a full investigation into allegations of misconduct in a high-profile Science paper showing how human pollution may be harming fish.

The June paper — which caught the media’s attention for suggesting fish larvae are eating small particles of plastic rather than their natural prey — became the focus of scrutiny soon after it was published when a group of researchers raised allegations of misconduct. Earlier this year, Science told us it was considering issuing an Expression of Concern (EOC) for the paper, and Uppsala said it was conducting an inquiry, the first step in determining whether to launch a formal investigation.

The expert group who conducted the preliminary investigation has ultimately recommended against an investigation of the paper, according to an Uppsala spokesperson: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 20th, 2016 at 2:15 pm

Meet the filmmakers who cracked open the case against star surgeon Macchiarini

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svtlogo-black_v2Paolo Macchiarini — once a world-renowned surgeon for creating tracheas from cadavers and patients’ own stem cells – has been dogged for years by accusations of misconduct. Officials at his institution, Karolinska Institute, initially cleared him of many charges, but that all changed earlier this year, when Swedish Television (SVT) aired a series of documentaries about Macchiarini and his work. The series alleged, in part, that he operated on patients in Russia whose conditions were not life-threatening enough to warrant such a risky procedure. Such serious accusations caused a media storm, and prompted officials to take a second look at Macchiarini’s work. KI dismissed Macchiarini, and many others have resigned, including KI’s vice chancellor. Recently, two new reports critiqued KI’s role in the case, and Sweden’s Central Ethical Review Board found Macchiarini guilty of misconduct in a 2014 paper. We spoke with SVT producers Bosse Lindquist and Johannes Hallbom via email about the fallout from their series.

Retraction Watch: Your documentary series has caused quite a storm: A series of resignations and renewed investigations have followed. Are you surprised by the reaction? Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alison McCook

September 12th, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Widely used brain tumor cell line may not be what researchers thought it was

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Bengt Westermark

Bengt Westermark

Nearly 50 years ago, researchers in Uppsala, Sweden used cells from a patient to establish a brain tumor cell line that has become widely used. But a new study suggests that the most common source of that cell line used by scientists today may not be derived from that original patient’s tumor, raising questions about the results obtained in hundreds of studies.

In a new paper out today in Science Translational Medicine, Bengt Westermark, of Uppsala University, and colleagues describe what they found when they performed a forensic DNA analysis comparing the widely used version of the cell line to the original. The findings are consistent with those of other analyses in which cell lines turn out not to be what researchers thought, a problem we’ve focused some attention on.

Here’s an email interview with Westermark about the findings and their implications: Read the rest of this entry »