A 2006 paper investigating the effects of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and celecoxib on prostate cancer cells has been retracted because it appears to contain panels that were duplicated, and the authors could not provide the raw data to show otherwise.
This is the second paper the authors have lost because they couldn’t furnish the original data to defend their work against allegations of image manipulation. The reason: the Institute for Cancer Prevention in New York, where the authors did the work, shut its doors abruptly in 2004, co-author Bhagavathi A. Narayanan told us. (The institute closed thanks to $5.7 million in grant that was misspent, the New York Post reported at the time.)
Recently, some of Narayanan’s papers have been questioned on PubPeer; her work has been the subject of an investigation at New York University, where Narayanan is now based.
Narayanan told us that the criticism of their work has deeply affected her and her co-authors:
We are living in hell.
Here’s the retraction note for “Docosahexaenoic acid in combination with celecoxib modulates HSP70 and p53 proteins in prostate cancer cells,” published in the International Journal of Cancer:
The above article, published online on 27 April 2006 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor-in-Chief, Prof. Peter Lichter, and Wiley Periodicals, Inc. The retraction has been agreed because errors were identified in several figures (Figs 4a, b, c, Fig. 5b, and Fig. 7a) concerning the beta-actin control panels and in Figs. 4b and 5b concerning the HSP70 panels. Panels appear to have been duplicated and the raw data are no longer available to validate the information.
The paper has been cited 25 times, according to Thomson Scientific’s Web of Knowledge.
Narayanan said that at the time the work was done, over a decade ago,
There were no rules that you had to keep the data. There was no Retraction Watch.
When we asked Narayanan about her work, she told us “of course science papers have mistakes.” In regards to the comments on PubPeer, she added:
It’s discrimination, [it’s] jealousy, it is targeting somebody. Most of the PubPeer comments were meritless. They just want to hurt the people…This is not a pleasant experience to share…This is, at the expense of someones dead body, eating the other person’s flesh.
Narayanan told us,
This is not going to end. They will keep on picking things because NYU school of medicine investigated all of our papers.
Indeed, the last retraction for the group noted the paper was pulled based on the findings from an investigation at NYU School of Medicine.
We asked if there were more retraction on the way. She said,
I don’t know about that.
This makes retraction number two for first author Narayanan K. Narayanan, Bhagavathi Narayanan, Maarten Bosland and Mark S. Condon. Last author Dominick Nargi was not an author on the previously retracted paper. Condon is affiliated with the Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, the rest are based at NYU School of Medicine.
We’ve reached out to NK Narayanan for comment as well. We could not find contact information for Nargi. We will update this post with anything else we learn.
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