Error scuppers paper on treatment for liver fibrosis

pharmbioPharmaceutical Biology has retracted a 2012 paper by a group of liver researchers from China after the discovery of an error that evidently invalidated the results in the paper.

The article, “Antifibrotic effects of protocatechuic aldehyde on experimental liver fibrosis,” purported to show that

protocatechuic aldehyde, the major degradation of phenolic acids … has potentially conferring antifibrogenic effects.

In other words, the compound appears to prevent the formation of liver fibroids.
But it doesn’t — at least, not according to the study — as the retraction notice explains:

The editors and publisher would like to inform readers the following article has been retracted from publication in Pharmaceutical Biology:

Li CM, Jiang WL, Zhu HB, Hou J. Antifibrotic effects of protocatechuic aldehyde on experimental liver fibrosis. Pharm Biol. 2012; 50(4): 413–419. (doi: 10.3109/13880209.2011.608193).

Following publication of this article, an error has been identified and upon further investigation of the effects of protocatechuic aldehyde on liver fibrosis, the results indicated protocatechuic aldehyde has no significant effect on liver fibrosis.

The authors have been fully co-operative and offer their sincerest apologies to the readers and the publishers of the Pharmaceutical Biology article and accept the retraction of this paper.

Pharmaceutical Biology published this article in good faith, and on the basis of signed statements of the corresponding author regarding the originality and ethical reliability of their work. The article is withdrawn from all print and electronic editions.

0 thoughts on “Error scuppers paper on treatment for liver fibrosis”

  1. That’s about as opaque as you can get: an “error” has been identified. The second-to-the-last sentence is particularly ominous. It appears to put the “originality” and/or “ethical reliability” of the authors in question. What did they do to be considered “ethically unreliable”?

  2. This raises the question of what should happen to promotion and tenure decisions based on certain numbers of to be retracted publications?

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