The Journal of Clinical Investigation has retracted two papers from the lab of one of Stanford University’s most prominent cancer researchers over concerns about the integrity of the data.
The articles, published in 2012 and 2014, described work on ways of priming the immune system to enhance the activity of drugs to fight cancer.
The first author on the two articles was Holbrook “Brook” Kohrt, a superstar young faculty member who died in 2016 of complications of hemophilia. Kohrt was the subject of this 2013 profile in the New York Times, which also wrote an obituary of him.
According to a person familiar with the articles, who did not want to be identified, Kohrt was responsible for the data — the senior author was Ronald Levy, a major figure in blood cancers — but Stanford learned of problems with the images after his death. When the institution could not find Korht’s relevant lab notebooks — the data were kept there, rather than electronically, according to the person familiar with the research — it decided it had no other option but to retract the work.
The 2012 article was titled “Stimulation of natural killer cells with a CD137-specific antibody enhances trastuzumab efficacy in xenotransplant models of breast cancer.” According to the JCI, the journal recently heard from Stanford:
of concerns regarding Figure 4, A and C, and indicated that the original source data for these figures could not be located. In accordance with the institutional recommendation, the JCI is retracting this article.
Same for the second paper, “Targeting CD137 enhances the efficacy of cetuximab:”
Stanford University School of Medicine recently notified the JCI of concerns regarding Figure 4, B, C, and E, Figure 5, B, D, and F, and Figure 6B and indicated that the original source data for these figures could not be located. In accordance with the institutional recommendation, the JCI is retracting this article.
According to the source, Blood soon will be retracting another paper by Kohrt, but that should be the last article to fall. However, Mark Paglia, the editorial manager for Blood, would not comment on the status of the paper. [See update on this post.]
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