“Data had been manipulated:” Science Translational Medicine retracts paper

Science Translational Medicine has retracted a paper by researchers based in Switzerland, after an investigation concluded two figures had been manipulated.

The investigation occurred at the University of Basel. It’s not clear what prompted it, but the paper has been discussed at length on PubPeer. After the investigation concluded two figure panels included manipulated data, the last author asked to retract the paper.

Here’s the notice:

Following concerns raised about potential data manipulation, the University of Basel conducted an internal investigation. This evaluation established that data had been manipulated in Figure 2A and Figure 3. Given that the integrity of the manuscript is compromised, the corresponding author Michael Sinnreich has requested that the Research Article be retracted. Thus, Science Translational Medicine is retracting the paper in full.

Proteasome inhibitors increase missense mutated dysferlin in patients with muscular dystrophy” has been cited eight times since it was published in 2014, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

One month after the paper appeared online in August 2014, a user on PubPeer raised a question about another figure panel, 2B. Another commenter tagged as “author” (and signing the note as last author Michael Sinnreich) uploaded an image of the entire blot used in figure 2B. However, that prompted additional comments from readers, who allege the published image has a much higher resolution than what the author shared, and some bands still appeared identical.

We contacted Sinnreich, who referred us to a university spokesperson.

First author Bilal Azakir is now an assistant professor at Beirut Arab University; he declined to comment further, and referred us to the retraction notice.

Update, 00:44 UTC time, June 9, 2017: We received a statement from Edwin Constable, Vice President for research of the University of Basel, earlier today:

The University of Basel was alerted to a possible problem with this publication by the lead scientist. The initial alert stemmed from the discussion on PubPeer. The University of Basel implemented its established procedures for cases of potential scientific misconduct. As a result of these procedures, we recommended the retraction of this paper.

We cannot make statements regarding either the nature of and responsibility for potential misconduct or any additional retractions.

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One thought on ““Data had been manipulated:” Science Translational Medicine retracts paper”

  1. Concerns remain at Pubpeer about a couple of other papers from the same combination of authors.

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