Clinical Cancer Research is retracting a paper on the immunosuppressive effects of glioma due to “evidence of duplicate and/or redundant publication.”
According to the retraction notice, the 2010 paper bore exceeding similarities to another one published by the same group of researchers six days prior. That second paper appeared in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics, which – like Clinical Cancer Research — is published by the American Association for Cancer Research. Apparently, a reader tipped off the AACR about the similarity.
The corresponding author on both papers, however, has objected to the decision:
We do not agree with the decision regarding the retraction of the Clinical Cancer Research (CCR) Article based on the interpretation of duplication.
Here’s the notice:
The article entitled “Glioma-Associated Cancer-Initiating Cells Induce Immunosuppression,” which was published in the January 15, 2010, issue of Clinical Cancer Research [CCR (1)], is being retracted at the request of the AACR Publications Department and the CCR Editor-in-Chief. A reader presented evidence of duplicate and/or redundant publication in two articles by Wei and colleagues published in two AACR journals. The articles in question, “Glioblastoma Cancer-Initiating Cells Inhibit T-cell Proliferation and Effector Responses by the Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription 3 Pathway” (2) and “Glioma-Associated Cancer-Initiating Cells Induce Immunosuppression,” were published, respectively, in the January 2010 issue of Molecular Cancer Therapeutics and the January 15, 2010, issue of CCR. The editors of both journals and AACR Publications Department members investigated the matter further. We found that identical text was presented in the Materials and Methods and Results sections of both articles. In addition, the submission of these papers was nearly simultaneous, and neither paper made reference to the existence of the other. We contacted the corresponding author of the study to express our concerns, and, after several rounds of correspondence, suggested she notify her institution’s Office of Research Integrity (or comparable authority). After extensive review of the responses to our queries from the author and representatives from her institution’s Office of Research Integrity, we have determined that this is a case of redundant and/or duplicate publication as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Research Integrity standards (http://ori.hhs.gov/plagiarism-14).
It is our responsibility to correct the published record. In cases of redundant and/or duplicate publication, the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE) recommends retraction of the redundant and/or duplicate article. Thus, the article entitled “Glioma-Associated Cancer-Initiating Cells Induce Immunosuppression,” which was published online in CCR on January 12, 2010, will be retracted; the article entitled “Glioblastoma Cancer-Initiating Cells Inhibit T-cell Proliferation and Effector Responses by the Signal Transducers and Activators of Transcription 3 Pathway,” which was published online in Molecular Cancer Therapeutics on January 6, 2010, will remain unchanged. A copy of this notice was sent to the authors.
However, Amy Heimberger at MD Anderson Cancer Center, the corresponding author on both papers, insists that the retraction was not warranted. She claims that the duplication simply represented “a baseline immunological phenotypic and functional characterization of the glioma cancer stem cells” required for each study:
We do not agree with the decision regarding the retraction of the Clinical Cancer Research (CCR) Article based on the interpretation of duplication. For the CCR article the theme was focused on how differentiation effects the immune suppression of the glioma cancer stem cell. In contrast, in the Molecular Cancer Therapeutics (MCT) article, the effects of the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 on the biology of the glioma cancer stem cell was probed. Prior to either of these works, the immune suppressive properties of glioma cancer stems cells had not been described. In order to develop either of the aforementioned key concepts, a baseline immunological phenotypic and functional characterization of the glioma cancer stem cells was necessary in order to proceed; thereafter the manuscripts diverge. More specifically, in the CCR article there is an extensive and comprehensive characterization of how the astrocytes and glioma cell lines impact T cell proliferation, apoptosis and Treg induction; the biological role of B7-H1 relative to Tregs was investigated; the contribution of galectin 3 in T cell apoptosis is probed; and the effects of differentiation on this immune suppression was evaluated. In contrast, in the MCT article, the effects of reversing glioma cancer stem cell immune suppression with an siRNA targeting STAT3 was evaluated; the effects of a small molecule inhibitor, WP1066, on immune suppression was determined; and immune cytokine profiling was performed. Both manuscripts make important and distinct contributions to the field that is further supported by the lack of overlap of associated citations. The manuscripts were submitted simultaneously and accepted within the same time frame and thus the reason why they did not cross reference each other.
The retracted paper has been cited 101 times, according to Thompson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge. Kenneth Anderson, the journal’s editor-in-chief, hasn’t replied to our request for comment, but we’ll update if he does.
Hat tip: William E. Gooding
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