Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘image manipulation’ Category

Corrections (and one EoC) propagate for distinguished plant biologist, Olivier Voinnet

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Olivier Voinnet

Olivier Voinnet

There may be some deeply rooted issues in the work of high-profile plant biologist Olivier Voinnet, biology department research director at ETH in Zurich. Corrections have continued to pile up months after his work was hit with a barrage of criticism on PubPeer. We’ve tracked a total of seven corrections over the past five months (not including the April retraction of a 2004 paper in The Plant Cell). One of the corrected papers also received an Expression of Concern this week.

Collectively, the corrected papers have accumulated more than 1200 citations.

In January, Voinnet said he planned to correct multiple papers, after receiving “an anonymous email.”

One of the recent corrections we found is for a 2004 article in The Plant Journal, “An enhanced transient expression system in plants based on suppression of gene silencing by the p19 protein of tomato bushy stunt virus,” which details using proteins from a tomato virus to help alter gene expression. The study has been cited 862 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Here’s the correction notice, posted June 8:

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JBC cancer paper felled by duplication is one author’s second retraction this month

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25.coverA 2002 paper in the Journal of Biological Chemistry on how lung cancer cells resist death has been retracted for duplicating figures from a 2001 paper.

The retracted paper, “Fibroblast growth factor-2 induces translational regulation of Bcl-XL and Bcl-2 via a MEK-dependent pathway: correlation with resistance to etoposide-induced apoptosis,” shares the first and last authors with the 2001 paper, in Oncogene, as well as two other co-authors.

Here’s JBC’s entire retraction note, a sub-genre with which we’ve become intimately familiar by now:

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Lost your data? Blame an earthquake

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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:

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Written by Shannon Palus

June 25th, 2015 at 12:00 pm

Oncogene to retract breast cancer paper following years-old misconduct investigation

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Oncogene is retracting a 2010 paper on the molecular details of breast cancer cells as they undergo metastasis following an investigation that discovered the first author had committed misconduct.

The thing is, the investigation concluded in 2012, and the paper — “miR-661 expression in SNAI1-induced epithelial to mesenchymal transition contributes to breast cancer cell invasion by targeting Nectin-1 and StarD10 messengers” — isn’t being retracted until next week.

According to Lucinda Haines, senior publishing manager at Nature Publishing Group, the paper will be retracted June 29.

We heard from Iris Behrmann, Head of the Life Sciences Research Unit at the University of Luxembourg:

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Columbia biologists “deeply regret” Nature retraction, after postdoc faked 74 panels in 3 papers

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natureA team of Columbia University biologists has retracted a 2013 Nature paper on the molecular pathways underlying Alzheimer’s disease, the second retraction from the group after a postdoc faked data.

An April report from the Office of Research Integrity (ORI) found the a first author, former Columbia postdoc Ryousuke Fujita, responsible for “knowingly and intentionally fabricating and falsifying research in seventy-four (74) panels” in three papers: a 2011 Cell paper retracted in 2014, an unpublished manuscript, and this now-retracted Nature paper, “Integrative genomics identifies APOE e4 effectors in Alzheimer’s disease.”

The paper was touted in a Columbia University Medical Center press release as identifying “key molecular pathways” leading to late-onset Alzheimer’s disease. The paper fingered two potential molecular drug targets, as well.

Here is the full retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

“Significant overlap” between figures spurs note of concern for 13-year-old retinoblastoma paper

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AmJPatholThe American Journal of Pathology has posted a note of concern to a 2002 paper about retinoblastoma after discovering two sets of figures “share significant overlap… suggesting that they did not originate from different specimens.”

The overlap was “simultaneously brought to the attention of the Editors” by both the corresponding author and a “concerned reader.”

The paper examined the role of a transcription factor called NF-kappaB in driving retinoblastoma, and suggested that inhibiting the molecule’s activity could be a therapeutic strategy.

The authors attribute the overlap to “an inadvertent misidentification of the original files at the stage of image capture.” They add that they “sincerely regret this inadvertent error;” because other data in the paper show “concordant results,” they stand by the paper’s findings.

Here’s the note:

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Written by Alla Katsnelson

June 15th, 2015 at 9:30 am

“Evidence of data duplication” infects lung inflammation paper from Harvard and Yale

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IAIA team of Harvard and Yale biologists have retracted an Infection and Immunity paper due to data duplication.

After the duplication came to light, the erroneous figures were corrected using original data, but the results affected “some of the manuscript’s conclusions.” An ethics panel subsequently recommended retraction, according to the journal, and the authors agreed.

The paper, “NOD2 Signaling Contributes to Host Defense in the Lungs against Escherichia coli Infection,” analyzed the role of the gene NOD2 in the lung inflammatory response against the bacteria Escherichia coli. It has been cited by 15 other papers, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Figure 2B of the paper was previously corrected in 2012, but the retraction is for data duplication in figures 5F and 6A. Here’s the full retraction note: Read the rest of this entry »

“I hold my hands up”: PubPeer criticisms spark a biochemist’s offer to retract

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MPIn a back-and-forth on PubPeer, a researcher appears to have offered to retract a paper after commenters challenged the use of identical control bands on a gel.

A person writing as Virginia Commonwealth University biochemist Paul Dent admitted the control bands of his 2007 Molecular Pharmacology paper, “Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Modulates Prostate Cancer Cell Survival after Irradiation or HMG CoA Reductase Inhibitor Treatment,” were duplicated “for comparison purposes,” but stated he was “in no way attempting to ‘intentionally manipulate the data.’”

In response, Dent appeared to offer to pull the paper, about using a hormone to help kill prostate cancer cells:

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Exosome pioneer’s paper retracted after investigation finds “multiple” faked figures

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JImmunolThe Journal of Immunology is retracting a 2006 article about the role of exosomes in pregnancy at the behest of the University of Louisville in Kentucky, following a misconduct investigation that “determined multiple figures” in the paper were falsified.

First author Douglas Taylor is a pioneer in exosome biology, having discovered the release of exosomes from tumor cells in the 1970s.

The retracted paper identified “significant quantitative and qualitative differences in released exosomes” in the placentas of fetuses delivered prematurely compared to those delivered without complications at term, particularly relating to immune regulation.  It has been cited 150 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s the retraction note (which is paywalled – tsk, tsk): Read the rest of this entry »

Another “first author has accepted responsibility” retraction from immunity journal

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IAIScientists have pulled their 2013 Infection and Immunity paper after a reader noticed duplicated data in three figures, and the first author was “unable to provide the original data used to construct the figures,” according to the journal’s editor-in-chief.

According to the retraction note, “the first author has accepted responsibility for these anomalies” — similar to another recent retraction from the same journal, also due to image duplication reported by a reader (apparently the journal has one or more careful readers).

The paper, “Pseudomonas aeruginosa Outer Membrane Vesicles Modulate Host Immune Responses by Targeting the Toll-Like Receptor 4 Signaling Pathway,” concerns the role of outer membrane vesicles excreted by the bacteria to incite an inflammatory response in mice. It was written by authors at the University of North Dakota, Sichuan University in China, and the University of Chicago, and has been cited six times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

Here’s the complete retraction note:

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