Cancer paper retracted after author discovers signs of data manipulation

A molecular biology journal has retracted a 2017 cancer paper only two months after it appeared online, after the corresponding author notified the journal about possible data manipulation.

According to the notice, Chunsun Fan, from Qidong Liver Cancer Institute & Qidong People’s Hospital in China, requested the retraction after finding “signs of data manipulation” in the paper that was published online in April. The journal, FEBS Letters, acted quickly, publishing a retraction earlier this month.

Here’s the retraction notice for “MiR-19 regulates breast cancer cell aggressiveness by targeting profilin 1:”

The above article from FEBS Letters, published online on 19 April 2017 in Wiley Online Library (, has been withdrawn by agreement between the authors, the Journal Managing Editor, Felix Wieland, and John Wiley & Sons Ltd., on behalf of the Federation of European Biochemical Societies. The withdrawal has been agreed following a communication from the Corresponding Author, Chunsun Fan, who found signs of data manipulation, and requested the retraction of the article.

A spokesperson for the journal told us:

The retraction request originated from the Corresponding Author: while checking the proofs he found signs of data manipulation (of which he was previously unaware). He reported them to us and requested the article to be retracted. The journal accepted the author’s request.

The spokesperson clarified:

The article had been published as “Accepted Article”, i.e. published online immediately after acceptance but before typesetting and copyediting. It was retracted before it was published on EarlyView or in an issue.

We’ve reached out to Fan by phone and email as well, and will update the post if we hear back.

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One thought on “Cancer paper retracted after author discovers signs of data manipulation”

  1. All I can say is that this must have taken guts.
    I suspect that most authors, after going through peer review and getting their article accepted and published, would have quietly sat on their suspicions of data manipulation.,, hoping that they do not come to light.
    Well done Chunsun Fan. Now all you need to do is find out the who and why behind the data manipulation. To prevent it from occurring in the future.

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