Takeda group retracts paper after realizing “novel” compound had already been synthesized…by a colleague

BMC_CoverA group of scientists at Takeda Pharmaceutical, including vice president Yoshinori Ikeura, has lost a paper after realizing that their “novel” compound had been previously synthesized by another Takeda researcher.

The 2011 paper, published in Elsevier journal Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry, was the subject of a 2012 corrigendum adding two authors to the paper. The retraction appeared online in December of this year.

Seems like they didn’t add enough authors, though. The notice indicates that another researcher, “Dr. Yukimasa,” had “led the drug discovery research” that resulted in a synthesis of the neurokinin-1 receptor antagonist, a class of drugs that can to stop nausea from chemotherapy. The retracted paper, however, stated that the compound was first discovered by the Ikeura group, and gave no credit to Yukimasa.

A drug researcher named Hidefumi Yukimasa previously worked at Takeda, as indicated by several patents he holds, as well as at Kyoto University’s database for lab rats in Japan. However, his Takeda email bounces, and he has a staff page at the Ritsumeikan University website, so it seems likely he’s moved on from the company. (Takeda Pharmaceuticals is the American subsidiary of Takeda Chemical Industries.)

Here’s the notice for “3-Benzhydryl-4-piperidones as novel neurokinin-1 receptor antagonists and their efficient synthesis”:

The article has been retracted at the request of the authors. Subsequent to publication, it became clear to the authorship group that there was a serious mistake about the origin of the lead compound. The manuscript indicated that the lead compound was found from high-throughput screening of our chemical library. However, it was revealed that the lead compound had been originally designed and synthesized aiming to get the biological activities by one of the authors. Furthermore, Dr. Yukimasa was omitted as an author, while in fact Dr. Yukimasa led the drug discovery research toward the hit compound. The authors concluded that these facts made the paper inappropriate and unfaithful, and therefore made the decision to retract.

The paper has been cited three times, including by the correction, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

We’ve reached out to the authors, editor, and Yukimasa, and will update with anything new.

Hat tip: Rolf Degen 

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