Caught Our Notice: Journals still (slowly) purging archives of bad cell line studies

Via Wikimedia

Title: Tanshinone IIA Induces Apoptosis in Human Oral Cancer KB Cells through a Mitochondria-Dependent Pathway

What Caught Our Attention: Thousands of papers have relied on contaminated or wrong cell lines, a problem journals have not been particularly proactive in addressing. So far, only a few studies have been retracted for using misidentified cell lines.

But that hasn’t stopped scientists from trying to clean up the record. In 2014, Amanda Capes-Davis, chair of the International Cell Line Authentication Committee, posted a comment on Pubmed Commons about a recently published paper, noting that the cell line was not the cancer cell type the authors claimed. She also included a link to the registry of misidentified cell lines, which showed the line — known as KB — was a cervical cancer cell type, not oral cancer (as the authors believed). But it wasn’t until November 2017 that the journal took some action — in this case retracting the article, and referring to the (yes, three year old) Pubmed comment as cause.

Journal: BioMed Research International

Authors: Pao-Yu Tseng, Wei-Cheng Lu, Ming-Ju Hsieh, Su-Yu Chien, and Mu-Kuan Chen

Affiliations:  Changhua Christian Hospital,Taiwan; Chung Shan Medical University, Taiwan;
China Medical University, Taiwan

The Notice:

BioMed Research International has retracted the article titled “Tanshinone IIA Induces Apoptosis in Human Oral Cancer KB Cells through a Mitochondria-Dependent Pathway” [1]. As noted by Amanda Capes-Davis on PubMed Commons, KB cells are cross-contaminated by HeLa and are not oral cancer cells [2]. Therefore, the conclusions cannot be supported. Tan IIA was already known to induce apoptosis in HeLa cells through a mitochondria-dependent pathway [3].

Date of Article: May 2014

Times Cited, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science: 5

Date of Notice: November 21, 2017

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2 thoughts on “Caught Our Notice: Journals still (slowly) purging archives of bad cell line studies”

  1. Many thanks to Retraction Watch for finding out this paper was retracted. I was not aware that my comment led to further action until seeing it highlighted here. Good to see the editors taking action on concerns regarding misidentified cell lines.

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