Cancer researcher under investigation in Italy notches eighth retraction

ejcancerAlfredo Fusco, the researcher in Italy who is under criminal investigation and has had seven papers retracted, has lost yet another study.

The investigation, which came to light in late 2013, had focused on eight papers thought to demonstrate evidence of image manipulation.

The latest paper, in the European Journal of Cancer, studied mice with a genetic alteration associated with lipomas (benign fatty growths) in humans.

Here’s part of the notice for “Expression of a truncated Hmga1b gene induces gigantism, lipomatosis and B-cell lymphomas in mice”:

A reader contacted the Editors of the European Journal of Cancer regarding possible duplications in Figure 1D (‘RT-PCR analysis of the expression of the CMV-Hmgaib/T transgene in a panel of adult tissues from transgenic mice’) and in Figure 4D (‘RT-PCR analysis showing the expression of V-preB and Rag2 genes in TG and WT spleens’). The authors are unable to provide the Editors with the original source files that were used to generate the Figures. Therefore, the paper has been retracted from the Journal.

The corresponding author disagrees with the retraction decision and claims that the original files were lost in the transfer of the laboratory in 2003. Further, the author stands behind the results noted in the paper and asserts that further experiments have validated these results.

Now, we hear the “we don’t keep records that long” excuse fairly often, sometimes with a “I spilled coffee on the server” thrown in for good measure. But what we can’t figure out in this case is why a lab transfer in 2003 would have anything to do with records of experiments published in 2011. Elsevier, which publishes the journal, tells us that the timeline had nothing to do with the retraction.

We’ve of course tried to ask Fusco for clarification, but his email bounced.

The paper, which garnered some attention on PubPeer, has been cited twice, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.

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5 thoughts on “Cancer researcher under investigation in Italy notches eighth retraction”

  1. I know that Naples university started a while ago an investigation on Fusco’s scientific prodiction. Does any one know what was the outcome?

  2. No answers.
    I can’t believe no one is interested in this story. I mean there are Research Insitutions accused of having hosted fraudsters, there are dozens of researchers that may have faked data, there are funding agencies that are likely to have funded rubbish studies, there are Universities that are accused of having amonng their teachers people with little hetical sense. Is it possible that no one wants try to defend him/herself from all this?

  3. List of co-authors on the retracted article
    Monica Fedele, Rosa Visone, Ivana De Martino, Dario Palmieri, Teresa Valentino, Francesco Esposito, Andres Klein-Szanto, Claudio Arra, Andrea Ciarmiello, Carlo M. Croce, Alfredo Fusco

    Lots of Pubpeer comments on similar issues concerning articles featuring Croce as author including

    “HMGA2 induces pituitary tumorigenesis by enhancing E2F1 activity”
    Monica Fedele, Rosa Visone, Ivana De Martino, Giancarlo Troncone, Dario Palmieri, Sabrina Battista, Andrea Ciarmiello, Pierlorenzo Pallante, Claudio Arra, Rosa Marina Melillo, Kristian Helin, Carlo Maria Croce, Alfredo Fusco, Cancer Cell, 9 (2006)

    and

    “c-FLIPL enhances anti-apoptotic Akt functions by modulation of Gsk3 activity”
    C Quintavalle, M Incoronato, L Puca, M Acunzo, C Zanca, G Romano, M Garofalo, M Iaboni, C M Croce, G Condorelli, Cell Death Differ., 17 (2010)

    and

    “WWOX gene restoration prevents lung cancer growth in vitro and in vivo”
    Muller Fabbri, Dimitrios Iliopoulos, Francesco Trapasso, Rami I Aqeilan, Amelia Cimmino, Nicola Zanesi, Sai Yendamuri, Shuang-Yin Han, Dino Amadori, Kay Huebner, Carlo M Croce, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 102 (2005)

  4. According to Pubmed Alfredo Fusco has 11 papers (excluding the retracted one) in the European Journal of Cancer. None of these papers are free.
    The journal might consider making them free and accessible to all.

  5. 9th Alfredo Fusco retraction. Penultimate author here:

    https://pubpeer.com/publications/15761501

    http://i.imgur.com/fEHN3ky.jpg

    2016 retraction notice: http://www.jci.org/articles/view/87345

    J Clin Invest. 2005 Apr;115(4):1068-81. Epub 2005 Mar 10.
    The RET/PTC-RAS-BRAF linear signaling cascade mediates the motile and mitogenic phenotype of thyroid cancer cells.
    Melillo RM1, Castellone MD, Guarino V, De Falco V, Cirafici AM, Salvatore G, Caiazzo F, Basolo F, Giannini R, Kruhoffer M, Orntoft T, Fusco A, Santoro M.
    Author information
    1Istituto di Endocrinologia ed Oncologia Sperimentale del CNR G. Salvatore, Dipartimento di Biologia e Patologia Cellulare e Molecolare, University Federico II, Naples, Italy.

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