Second paper falls for ex-Leiden researcher accused of fraud

atrdLast November we wrote about the retraction of a 2010 paper in PNAS by Annemie Schuerwegh and colleagues. Schuerwegh had been fired from Leiden University in The Netherlands for fraud, which said there would be a second retraction coming.

It has.

The article, “Anti-citrullinated protein antibodies in rheumatoid arthritis: a functional role for mast cells and basophils?” had appeared in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases. According to the retraction notice:

The authors wish to note that this publication is, in part, based upon a paper from our group that is now retracted from the scientific literature as it contained fraudulent data. The first author of this paper (Schuerwegh et al. Evidence for a functional role of IgE anticitrullinated protein antibodies in rheumatoid arthritis. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2010;107:2586–91) manipulated several assays used in the studies presented. By adding anti-IgE antibodies into the tubes containing citrullinated fibrinogen, it seemed that the activation of basophils resulted from exposure to citrullinated fibrinogen.

Likewise, controls and samples were manipulated through transfer of cells from positive controls to other tubes that now also appeared to contain a positive reaction. This was done in the absence of all other investigators who did not have knowledge of these irregularities. After discovery of these events, several experiments were performed with the goal to reproduce the data indicating the presence of IgE ACPA. The validity of these data could not be confirmed. Therefore, part of the data summarised in the review published in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases are incorrect.

For these reasons, the authors wish to retract the publication that appeared in Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases from the scientific record.

The Leiden University Medical Centre has completed an investigation by an independent investigation committee into the violation of scientific integrity and irregularities and has concluded that sole responsibility for the irregularities rests with the first author on the paper published in Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2010;107:2586–91. She has admitted manipulating the data presented in this paper.

The paper has been cited just once, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

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