Cancer journal with hefty retraction record retracts another 15

A cancer journal with a history of batch retractions has pulled 15 articles dating back to 2014 after concluding that they contained manipulated or misused images. 

As we reported in 2017, Tumor Biology was forced to retract 107 papers that had been corrupted by fake peer review – a record at the time. That move had followed a similar, if smaller, sweep in 2016 by the journal, which was owned by Springer but purchased by SAGE in December 2016 after the more massive cleanse. 

Tumor Biology, which is the official journal of the International Society of Oncology and Biomarkers, has since been resold, this time to IOS Press. In 2017, Science reported that several members of the journal’s editorial board – including the Nobel winner Nobel laureate Harald zur Hausen – were unaware of their association with the publication. That same year, the journal was delisted from Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science.

The problematic papers, all from labs in China, were flagged on PubPeer, where more than 70 entries currently exist for the journal.  

Here’s the start of the notice:

The publisher and the Editor-in-Chief, in consultation with former publisher of Tumor Biology, retract a total of 15 articles from the journals’ online catalog. The articles were published in different issues of the journal during the period 2014–2016. All articles affected by this retraction notice have problems related to image manipulation or misuse. A detailed explanation is given for each retracted article. The investigations were carried out in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). …

The individual notices are basically the same. Here are a couple: 

Li, N., Zhao, X., Wang, L., Zhang, S., Cui, M. & He, J. miR-494 suppresses tumor growth of epithelial ovarian carcinoma by targeting IGF1 R. Tumor Biology. 2016;37:7767–7776. doi: 10.1007/s13277-015-4603-8

The authors contacted the editorial office to request a retraction. According to them, they are not able to reproduce the results of this paper. They apologize to the readership of the journal for any inconvenience caused.

After receiving the retraction request, investigation by the editorial office found on PubPeer ( concerns related to image manipulation in Figures 2 C, 2D, 4D and 7A, not refuted by the authors.


Li, YG., Liang, NX., Qin, YZ., Ma, DJ., Huang, CJ., Liu, L. & Li, SQ. Effects of RNAi-mediated TUSC3 silencing on radiation-induced autophagy and radiation sensitivity of human lung adenocarcinoma cell line A549 under hypoxic condition. Tumor Biology. 2016;37:16357–16365. doi: 10.1007/s13277-016-5458-3

The authors contacted the editorial office to request a retraction. They declared that, “As for the limited experimental conditions at that time, I did not carry out cell line screening, and only used a single human lung adenocarcinoma cell line A549 for experiment. However, when I continued my research in the later stage, I purchased other human lung adenocarcinoma cell lines (NCI-H446) for experiments, and could not obtain the RNAi precipitation with A549 cell line Mutusc3 gene inhibits the growth and proliferation of hypoxic lung adenocarcinoma cell line A549, promotes its apoptosis, and enhances the radiosensitivity of hypoxic lung adenocarcinoma cell line A549. Our team verified the sub-cultured frozen A549 cell line and found that this cell line has been contaminated. Therefore, the original conclusion is not strict.”

After receiving the retraction request, investigation by the editorial office found on PubPeer ( evidence of image manipulation in Figures 2, 4 and 7, not refuted by the authors.

The editor of the journal did not respond to a request for comment.

Hat tip: Neuroskeptic

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7 thoughts on “Cancer journal with hefty retraction record retracts another 15”

  1. The W*k*pedia informs me that Tumor Biology was originally part of the Karger stable, making IOS its fourth publisher.

  2. An actual reason why you censored the word “wikipedia”. There’s no religion that has a prohibition against typing “wikipedia” (unless it’s a “religion” you just made up yourself).

    1. If you are irritated by my literary affectations, that is quite understandable, but it does not entitle you to an explanation of my personal motives.
      I suggest that a RW comment thread is not the place for this discussion.

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