Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘cancer biology’ Category

Carlo Croce, facing misconduct allegations, accuses former colleague of misconduct

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Carlo Croce

Carlo Croce, a cancer researcher who has faced numerous research misconduct allegations, recently accused a former lab member of misconduct. Although an institutional probe did not support that allegation, Croce’s efforts have led to a retraction.

In November 2015, Croce and another cancer researcher at Ohio State University (OSU), Ramiro Garzon, contacted PLOS ONE, alleging that the paper’s corresponding author, Stefan Costinean, published data without their knowledge or permission and without “accurately acknowledging their contributions to the research.” Although the PLOS ONE paper mentioned Croce’s and Garzon’s contributions in the acknowledgements section, the two were not included as co-authors. We have obtained a copy of the report describing OSU’s preliminary probe; it did not find evidence of misconduct, but recommended the paper be retracted for using data without permission. Although Costinean disagreed, the journal has since retracted the paper.

Croce has been on the other side of this process: Seven of his papers have been retracted for issues including manipulation and duplication. After a New York Times article, published in March, explored misconduct allegations against Croce, OSU said the university is “instituting an independent external review.” Croce is currently suing the New York Times, alleging that the newspaper defamed him in the story.

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Researchers ask to retract cancer paper five days after it’s flagged by journal

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Researchers from the University of Kansas asked to retract their paper only days after the journal issued an expression of concern related to some of the images.

The retraction notice marks the close of an episode that started in June, but it doesn’t provide much closure: Figures in the paper apparently do not match primary data, but there’s no hint as to how that happened.

In a statement sent to JCS — just five days after the expression of concern came out — last author Kristi Neufeld, a cancer biologist at KU, wrote: Read the rest of this entry »

Caught Our Notice: Concerns about image in 2008 paper prompt editorial notice

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Via Wikimedia

Title: Characterization of a novel epigenetically-silenced, growth-suppressive gene, ADAMTS9, and its association with lymph node metastases in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

What caught our attention: One year ago, a PubPeer user suggested an image from a 2008 paper looked similar to one from another paper. After the authors stated their belief in the soundness of the image, without providing the originals, the journal issued only an Expression of Concern for the paper. Some journals have issued retractions for lack of original data, some have issued corrections, and even fewer have published editorial notices. Expressions of concern usually indicate that some type of final resolution will be announced, but in reality, a significant proportion remain unresolved for years. Based on the wording of this notice, it may be around for a while. Read the rest of this entry »

Widely used U.S. government database delists cancer journal

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The U.S. government biomedical research database MEDLINE no longer includes a cancer journal with a storied past.

Starting August 2017, researchers looking up journals indexed in MEDLINE (which is accessed via PubMed) could no longer find new articles published by Oncotarget, once included on the now-defunct list of possibly predatory journals compiled by librarian Jeffrey Beall.

Joyce Backus, the National Library of Medicine’s Associate Director for Library Operations, declined to say why Oncotarget had been deselected from MEDLINE:

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Written by Alison McCook

October 25th, 2017 at 2:15 pm

A journal printed a sharp critique of a paper it had published. If only it had checked with the authors first.

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In 2016, researchers published a paper showing that an RNA molecule may be overactive in breast tumor tissue. But after reading the paper, three biologists believed the data supported the opposite conclusion.

What happened after that is a tale of misunderstandings and unnecessarily bruised feelings. We’ve seen plenty of cases where researchers ignore criticism, which at first glance seemed to be the case here. But upon closer inspection, it wasn’t. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

October 11th, 2017 at 8:05 am

Early data on potential anti-cancer compound now in human trials was falsified, company admits

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A pharmaceutical company has admitted that one of its former researchers falsified early data on a compound that’s designed to fight cancer, now in human trials.

The data, published as an abstract in August 2015 in the journal Cancer Research, reported a therapeutic benefit of acalabrutinib in a mouse model of pancreatic cancer. The compound, developed by the company Acerta Pharma, has also been the subject of additional trials published in the New England Journal of Medicine and Blood in 2015. The 2015 NEJM study, which had several authors in common with the Cancer Research abstract, showed the agent had “promising safety and efficacy profiles in patients” with relapsed chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

But an investigation into the data underlying the 2015 abstract shows some were falsified, prompting the journal to retract the abstract.

Ed Tucker, senior vice president of Medical Safety, Quality and Compliance at Acerta Pharma, told us that in August 2016 the company identified an issue with the data in the Cancer Research abstract and started an investigation:

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UCSF, VA investigations find “clear evidence” of misconduct in cancer papers

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Earlier this year, the University of California, San Francisco and the San Francisco Veterans Administration Medical Center teamed up to write a letter.

Addressed to the editorial office at the American Association of Cancer Research (AACR), the letter, parts of which have been published in a retraction notice, contained information concerning two papers on genetic risk factors for a type of kidney cancer and a type of uterine cancer, respectively, published in different AACR journals over a decade ago by researchers affiliated with the institutions.

The papers had been at the center of research misconduct investigations at both UCSF and the VA and the investigations came to the conclusion that both papers contained:

fabrication or falsification of data that constitutes Research Misconduct.

Though one of the papers has been retracted, it’s unclear what will happen to the other. [Note: See update at the bottom of the post.] Read the rest of this entry »

SAGE journal retracts three more papers after discovering faked reviews

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SAGE recently retracted three 2015 papers from one of its journals after the publisher found the articles were accepted with faked peer reviews. The retraction notices call out the authors responsible for submitting the reviews.

This trio of retractions is the second batch of papers withdrawn by Technology in Cancer Research & Treatment over faked reviews in the past eight months. In 2016, the journal began investigating concerns from an anonymous tipster about faked reviewer reports and subsequently retracted three papers in December over “manipulation of the peer-review process” (1, 2, 3).

Jennifer Lovick, the journal’s executive editor, told us the recent issues have prompted the journal to take steps to strengthen the peer review process: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

August 21st, 2017 at 11:30 am

“The article must be retracted:” Journal pulls prostate cancer study

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A 2016 paper exploring the biology of prostate cancer has been retracted due to figure manipulation.

According to the retraction notice, a reader contacted the journal Clinical Cancer Research in late 2016 with concerns that similar bands appeared multiple times in two images. The editors asked the paper’s corresponding author, Shahriar Koochekpour, about the issue and requested the raw data for the figures. But Koochekpour, based in the Departments of Cancer Genetics and Urology at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York, at the time of the study, could not locate the raw data.

Since the lab did not have raw data from such a relatively recent paper, the editors reached out to the research integrity officer at Roswell Park Cancer Institute to investigate. Indeed,  the research integrity officer contacted confirmed that two figures were problematic, and requested the paper be retracted.

Here’s the rather detailed retraction notice, published in July 2017, for “GRM1 is An Androgen-Regulated Gene and its Expression Correlates with Prostate Cancer Progression in Pre-Clinical Models:” Read the rest of this entry »

“We do not want to create false hope”: Authors retract Cell paper they can’t replicate

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A few years ago, researchers in Sweden had something to celebrate: They thought they had discovered a chink in the armor of the most common type of malignant brain cancer.

In a 2014 Cell paper, the team — led by Patrik Ernfors at the Karolinska Institutet — reported that they had identified a small molecule that could target and kill glioblastoma cells — the cancer that U.S. Senator John McCain was just diagnosed with — and prolong survival in mice with the disease. 

Satish Srinivas Kitambi, the paper’s first author, who is also based at the Karolinska Institutet, said the results got the team “really excited:” Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Victoria Stern

July 20th, 2017 at 11:05 am