Here’s the notice:
We wish to retract the article titled “Targeting Neural-Restrictive Silencer Factor Sensitizes Tumor Cells to Antibody-Based Cancer Immunotherapy In Vitro via Multiple Mechanisms” by Martin V. Kolev, Marieta M. Ruseva, B. Paul Morgan, and Rossen M. Donev, The Journal of Immunology, 2010, 184: 6035–6042.
Bands in Fig. 1A and 1B were pasted from multiple gels without indicating that this had been done. The last author, Rossen M. Donev, takes full responsibility for this action; the other authors were unaware of and had no part in the manipulation of the images. The findings and conclusions of the above article have been independently verified. However, due to the inappropriate manipulation of the data, we wish to retract the article.
A spokesperson for Cardiff University, where Donev had a position until recently, tells Retraction Watch:
Cases of poor data-handling are extremely rare at Cardiff University but the University takes a highly serious approach when such allegations are made. In this case, there was a full internal inquiry which established that one individual had inappropriately manipulated primary data in two figures in the paper. The individual was solely responsible for preparing these figures, and none of the other authors on the paper were aware of the manipulation.
The inquiry found that there had been no intention to mislead and subsequent repeats of the original experiments have shown that the paper’s conclusions remain sound. Nevertheless, in accordance with best academic practice, the individual responsible, who is no longer at Cardiff University, has agreed to the paper’s retraction from the journal.
The University is reminding staff of the need to observe appropriate methods when handling data, and is confident that the highest standards of practice will continue to be met.
The Medical Research Council, which funded the work, tells us:
Cardiff University informed the Medical Research Council (MRC) in September of the outcome of an investigation into inappropriate manipulation of data in the paper Targeting Neural-Restrictive Silencer Factor Sensitizes Tumor Cells to Antibody-Based Cancer Immunotherapy In Vitro via Multiple Mechanisms, and that Dr Donev would be writing to the Journal of Immunology to retract the paper.
The University also reported that they had independently repeated the experiments and had shown that the results could be reproduced.
The research was funded by the MRC; the MRC grant had already ended by the time we were informed of the irregularity.
The paper has been cited once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
We’ve tried to reach Donev and the University of Swansea, where he has an academic appointment, for comment, and will update with anything we hear back.
Update, 12/20/11, 8 a.m. Eastern: Donev tells us by email how the figures came to be manipulated and that there will be no other retractions:
After the paper was published, an editor from the journal emailed me that some bands in Figure 1A,B have been pasted. I carefully investigated the issue and realised that I have overlooked and submitted Fig. 1A which has been prepared for an internal group discussion a few years before submitting the paper based on very preliminary data. I replied to the journal and admitted that this figure should not have been sent to the journal for consideration and that I have alternative data obtained at a later stage of the work. Regarding Fig. 1B, I did pasted the bands taken from multiple experiments and felt this fact was obvious from their different backgrounds, assuming that this fact should be clear to the readers similarly to a number of papers in which single boxed bands are presented from multiple gels. Unfortunately, I must have misled some readers and realised that preparing this panel in such a way and not mentioning this fact was a great mistake.
A formal investigation was carried out by Cardiff University where the work was done. The investigation came to a conclusion that there had been no intent to deceive or perpetrate fraud. This was confirmed by independent verification of the findings and conclusions of the paper. The final report from the investigation was sent to the MRC. There will be no other retractions.
Hat tip: Axel Heiser