Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Archive for the ‘infectious disease’ Category

AIDS vaccine fraudster sentenced to nearly 5 years in prison and to pay back $7 million

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court case

A researcher who confessed to spiking rabbit blood samples to make the results of an HIV vaccine experiment look better has been sentenced to 57 months of prison time, according to The Des Moines Register.

Dong-Pyou Han has also been ordered to repay more than $7 million to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, and will have three years of supervised release following his prison term.

In December, 2013, the U.S. Office of Research Integrity announced that Han, formerly at Iowa State University (ISU), had faked his results to make an HIV vaccine look more powerful. The faulty data made their way into seven national and international symposia between 2010 and 2012 (resulting in a retracted poster in 2014), along with three grant applications and multiple progress reports. Han agreed to a three-year research ban, and resigned from ISU in October the following year.

The NIH never sent the final $1.38 million grant payment of more than $10 million awarded to Han’s boss, Michael Cho, and ISU returned nearly $500,000 it had received for Han’s salary and other costs.

However, Read the rest of this entry »

“The first author assumes all responsibility:” Malaria vaccine article retracted for image manipulation

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InfectAndImmunAuthors of a 2012 article in Infection and Immunity investigating a malaria vaccine strategy are retracting it because it “contains several images that do not accurately reflect the experimental data.”

The paper, “Fine Specificity of Plasmodium vivax Duffy Binding Protein Binding Engagement of the Duffy Antigen on Human Erythrocytes,” has been cited 9 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

The retraction notice places the blame for the image shenanigans squarely on the first author, Asim Siddiqui, who is currently listed on LinkedIn as a faculty member at the College of Applied Medicine at King Saud University in Saudi Arabia.

Here’s the notice: Read the rest of this entry »

PNAS paper on dengue virus pulled due to contamination

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PNAS_ak11smThe authors of a paper on dengue virus vaccine design published last year in PNAS are retracting it after discovering that their experimental dengue virus was contaminated.

Although they are confident that the strategy is sound, the authors write in their commendably detailed retraction notice that the “inadvertent error” rendered the results “uninterpretable.”

Here’s the retraction notice: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Alla Katsnelson

May 12th, 2015 at 9:30 am

Frontiers lets HIV denial article stand, reclassifies it as “opinion”

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frontiers phFollowing an investigation sparked by criticism for its decision to publish a paper questioning the link between HIV and AIDS, a Frontiers journal has decided to not retract the article but rebrand it as an “opinion.”

In September, 2014, Patricia Goodson, a professor of health education at Texas A&M University, published an article called “Questioning the HIV-AIDS hypothesis: 30 years of dissent.”

The paper was quickly called into question, and the journal, Frontiers in Public Health, issued a statement of concern and promised to look into the problem. Now, they’ve announced their solution: call the paper an “opinion” and publish an argument against it.

Read the rest of this entry »

A rare event: Toronto Star retracts fear-mongering vaccine story

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TorontoStarOriginalGardasilHeadlineFifteen days after publishing a widely-criticized article linking anecdotal health problems to the HPV vaccine Gardasil, the Toronto Star has issued a retraction.

The Page 1 story, “A wonder drug’s dark side,” was full of health horror stories from women who became sick “sometime after” the vaccine, as the retraction notes – twitching limbs, feeding tubes, even death. Each of these stories came from the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, a public database of anecdotes maintained by the U.S. government to help monitor rare side effects that might emerge when the vaccine is given to millions of people.

In mining this database of self-reported illness, the Star failed to give equal weight to the large body of scientific evidence that says Gardasil has very low rates of adverse effects and a huge public health benefit. The publisher’s note both acknowledges the criticism and explains where the story went wrong:

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

February 23rd, 2015 at 1:38 pm

Posted in infectious disease

Fraud’s long tail: Measles outbreak shows why it’s important to look downstream of retractions

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Child with measles, via Wikipedia/CDC

Child with measles, via Wikipedia/CDC

As Retraction Watch readers know, public health officials are concerned about a U.S. measles outbreak. As The New York Times notes:

The United States has already had more cases of measles in the first month of 2015 than the number that is typically diagnosed in a full year. This follows a year in which the number of cases was several times more than the average since 2000, when the disease was declared eliminated in the United States.

As Retraction Watch readers also know, the discredited autism-vaccines link, fears of which lead some parents to skip their kids’ vaccations, rears its ugly head periodically. Much of the related anti-vaccine movement can be tied to a 1998 study in the Lancet by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues that was eventually retracted in 2010: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

February 3rd, 2015 at 2:00 pm

Posted in infectious disease

After 25 years, AIDS fraud comes back swinging

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Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 5.20.32 PMHenk Buck, a Dutch chemist who once claimed he could cure AIDS, is back, publishing a long explanation of why he was right all along in a journal by what Jeffrey Beall calls a possible predatory publisher.

Buck spent a few months in 1990 as a hero. In April of that year, he and his team published a paper in Science that claimed they could prevent HIV from infecting human cells. Buck went on a press blitz, appearing on TV and the radio claiming that there would be a treatment for AIDS “in a few years,” according to an 1991 comment published in Science

Like many things that sound too good to be true, the AIDS cure was a fraud. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

February 3rd, 2015 at 11:30 am

Unspecified questions earn central line study an expression of concern

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ajicThe American Journal of Infection Control has issued an expression of concern for a paper looking at ways to reduce infections associated with central venous catheters, or central lines.

The catheters are placed directly into a large vein and end close to the heart, allowing long-term access for medication or fluid administration. According to the CDC, infections associated with central lines cause thousands of deaths and cost billions of dollars every year.

Here’s the abstract for “Comparison of central line-associated bloodstream infection rates when changing to a zero fluid displacement intravenous needleless connector in acute care settings“: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Cat Ferguson

February 2nd, 2015 at 11:30 am

Authors issue a model retraction for mistaken bacterial identity

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jcmA group in the Netherlands has retracted a case study on the diarrheal pathogen Campylobacter jejuni, commonly found in animal feces, after repeated tests showed the bacteria was actually C. fetus, which also causes spontaneous abortion in cows and sheep.

The 46-year-old man who had previously had an aortic valve replacement came to the doctors with endocarditis, an inflammation of the heart. Initial tests showed that it was due to a C. jejuni infection, which often lives in chickens, wombats, kangaroos, and sheep.

Only a few cases of endocarditis caused by C. jejuni had ever been reported. Unfortunately, a thorough followup made it clear that a different pathogen was at play. Let’s consider this retraction a model for all others in its clarity and thoroughness.

Take it away, notice for “Aortic Homograft Endocarditis Caused by Campylobacter jejuni“: Read the rest of this entry »

AIDS denialism paper retracted after Jeffrey Beall draws attention to it

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scirpA paper arguing that HIV does not cause AIDS has been retracted a few weeks after Jeffrey Beall, who tracks predatory publishers, called attention to it on his blog.

Here’s what Beall wrote about the paper on December 16:

The article is entitled “Basic Principles Underlying Human Physiology[1], and you don’t have to be a scientist to know that it’s junk, for it is a manifestation of AIDS denialism. The conclusion’s first paragraph says,

HIV is not etiologically involved in AIDS. It is just a common retrovirus found in AIDS conjuncturally. There is only AIDS that may not be strictly associated neither to a primary immune deficiency nor to an acquired immune deficiency. Actually, heart failure represents the causal factor of AIDS and many other “primary” immune deficiencies (p. 1821).

Now, in that article’s place, this retraction, dated December 19, appears: Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Ivan Oransky

January 2nd, 2015 at 11:30 am