Mistakes lead to retraction, correction of cancer papers by pair


A series of mistakes have caused a pair of cancer researchers based in China to retract one paper and correct another.

The retraction stems from a duplication of figures in a paper about the molecular underpinnings of colorectal cancer, which the editor of the journal told us he believed was caused by honest error. The other paper was corrected after the authors realized they had published the wrong versions of multiple figures, an error which the authors say does not affect the paper’s conclusions.

This isn’t the first time the pair has had to correct the record — these changes follow a mega-correction for Jie Hong, and Jing-Yuan Fang, both of the Shanghai Jiao-Tong University, where Fang is the director of the Shanghai Institute of Digestive Disease.

Here’s the retraction note for “Role of STAT3 and vitamin D receptor in EZH2-mediated invasion of human colorectal cancer,” published in the Journal of Pathology:

The above article from The Journal of Pathology, published online on 7 June 2013 in Wiley Online Library (wileyonlinelibrary.com), has been retracted by agreement between the authors, the journal Editor-in-Chief, Prof. C. Simon Herrington, and John Wiley & Sons Limited. Some sequences in Figure 6C were mistakenly identified, with consequent errors in the description of this figure and in the Materials and Methods section. Additionally, in Figures 5C, 5F and 7 some images were duplicated and erroneously presented as unique. The authors apologise to readers of the journal.

The paper has been cited 10 times, according to Thomson Reuters Web of Science.

The editor in chief of the journal told us:

We believe it was an honest error on the part of the authors. We are unable to provide further detail.

Hong and Fang have also recently issued a correction for “Bidirectional regulation between TMEFF2 and STAT3 may contribute to Helicobacter pylori-associated gastric carcinogenesis,” published in the International Journal of Cancer:

The authors provided incorrect versions of Fig. 5a, 5b, 5c and 6d in the main text, which were published with the issue. The corrected main text figures are below; We note the error does not affect the findings reported in the paper. We regret this error.

That paper has been cited twice.

We reached out to Hong and Fang for more information.

Hong and Fang aren’t the only two authors in common to the latest correction and retraction — Hao-yan Chen, Wan Du, and Tian-Tian Sun (all of Shanghai Jiao-Tong University) are also co-authors on the two papers.

The retracted paper also shares several authors with the paper that received a mega-correction last year: Weiping Zou of the University of Michigan; Jie Xu, Yingchao Wang, Yu-Rong Weng, Ya-Nan Yu, Hua Xiong, Lin-Lin Ren, all of Shanghai Jiao-Tong University School of Medicine; and Weibiao Cao of Brown. We’ve contacted Zou and Cao for more information, as well. 

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One thought on “Mistakes lead to retraction, correction of cancer papers by pair”

  1. Their recent publication should also be checked for reproducibility:

    Cell. 2017 Jul 27;170(3):548-563.e16. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2017.07.008.
    Fusobacterium nucleatum Promotes Chemoresistance to Colorectal Cancer by Modulating Autophagy.

    A paper in eLife raised the concern that Fusobacterium nucleatum is not significantly upregulated in colorectal cancer:
    Elife. 2018 Mar 13;7. pii: e25801. doi: 10.7554/eLife.25801.
    Replication Study: Fusobacterium nucleatum infection is prevalent in human colorectal carcinoma.

    Then, how can Fusobacterium nucleatum promote chemoresistance?

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