Image manipulation forces retraction of hepatitis C paper

ljii20.v032.i04.coverA group of researchers from Egypt has lost their 2013 article on hepatitis C in the Journal of Immunoassay and Immunochemistry for fudging their figures.

The article was titled “In vitro neutralization of HCV by goat antibodies against peptides encompassing regions downstream of HVR-1 of E2 glycoprotein.” According to the abstract:

This article aims at testing several in vitro systems with various viral sources and cell lines for propagation of HCV to evaluate goat antibodies raised against three E2 epitopes in viral neutralization experiments. Four human cell lines (Huh-7, Huh-7.5, HepG2, and CaCo2) were tested using two different HCV viral sources; Genotype 4 infected sera and J6/JFH HCV cc particles. Neutralization capacity of goat Abs against conserved E2 epitopes; p412 (a.a 412-419), p517 (a.a 517-531), and p430 (a.a 430-447) were examined in the above mentioned in vitro systems. Although infection with patients’ sera seems to mimic the in vitro situation, it has limited replication rates as compared with HCV cc particularly in Huh7.5 cells. Non-HCV adapted Huh-7 cells were also found susceptible for transfection with J6/JFH virus but at much slower kinetics. The results of the neutralization assay showed that anti p412 and anti p517 were highly neutralizing to HCVcc. Our data demonstrate that antibodies directed against the viral surface glycoprotein E2 reduced the infectivity of the J6/JFH virus and are promising agents for immunotherapy and HCV vaccine development.

Promising, perhaps — but not delivering.

Here’s the retraction notice:

We, the Editor and Publisher of Journal of Immunoassay and Immunochemistry, are retracting the following article:
Ashraf A. Tabll, Khaled Atef, Noha G. Bader El Din, Yasmine S. El Abd, Ahmed Salem, Ahmed A. Sayed, Reham M. Dawood, Moataza H. Omran, and Mostafa K. El-Awady “IN VITRO NEUTRALIZATION OF HCV BY GOAT ANTIBODIES AGAINST PEPTIDES ENCOMPASSING REGIONS DOWNSTREAM OF HVR-1 OF E2 GLYCOPROTEIN” Journal of Immunoassay and Immunochemistry, 35.1 (2014):12-25
We are now cognizant that the cell lines of the second and third panels (Huh7.5 and HepG2) of FIGURE 1 have been manipulated to achieve a preferred outcome.
This action constitutes an ethical breach of warranties made by the author. We note we received, peer-reviewed, accepted, and published the article in good faith based on these warranties, and censure this action.
The retracted article will remain online to maintain the scholarly record, but it will be digitally watermarked on each page as RETRACTED.

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