In a pair of refreshingly transparent and detailed notices, the authors explain that the transgenic plants used in the papers included genotyping errors, which invalidated their findings. According to the notices, first author Man-Ho Oh generated the problematic transgenic plants, while corresponding author Steven C. Huber, based at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), took responsibility for omitting some critical oversight.
Huber told us that there were only two papers that used the transgenic plants in question, so no other retractions will be forthcoming.
According to the notice, the authors agreed to retract the 2012 paper; however, the corresponding author told us the authors did not think a retraction was required as, according to him, the conclusions remained valid.
The paper presented a solution to the long-standing problem that sensitive biological compounds such as vaccines and antibiotics begin to lose their effectiveness outside the recommended temperature range, and naturally biodegrade over time. The degradation process cannot be reversed, and may even speed up during transport or storage under less ideal temperatures.
At the time, the company’s decision to disclose the retraction hurt its finances, as WntResearch delayed its planned initial public offering for three weeks. It also offered investors and shareholders the opportunity to withdraw their shares of WntResearch stock.
Thanks to some eagle-eyed readers, we’ve been alerted to some corrections for high profile stem cell scientist Jacob Hanna that we had missed, bringing our count to one retraction and 13 errata on 10 papers.
The problems in the work range from duplications of images, to inadvertent deletions in figures, to failures by his co-authors to disclose funding sources or conflicts of interest. Hanna is the first or last author on 4 of the papers, and one of several on the rest.
First up, a correction to a Cell paper on which Hanna is the first author:
Two out of the three authors of a PNAS paper on mutations underlying lung diseases are pulling it after failing to reproduce key findings.
The paper, published in 2012, investigated how mutations in lung surfactant genes induce molecular changes that lead to lung pulmonary fibrosis and lung cancer might work. But follow-up work revealed problems. In the retraction note, last author Christine Kim Garcia and second author Christoper Cano, both at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, write:
Current members of the C.K.G. laboratory are unable to reproduce key findings reported in the paper.
Olivier Voinnet — a plant researcher who was recently suspended for two years from the Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) after an investigation by ETH Zurich and CNRS found evidence of misconduct — has issued his second retraction and two more corrections.
PNAS posted the retraction earlier this week for a 2006 article after an inspection of the raw data revealed “errors” in study images. Authors confirmed the issues in some figures and revealed “additional mounting mistakes” in others.
Scientists at Duke and the National Institutes of Health have retracted a PNAS paper on asthma treatment after realizing the data from two sources didn’t match, and “most primary data” from several experiments were missing.
PNAS has retracted a paper on the cancer-causing Epstein-Barr virus just two months after publication, in a notice that fingers a now-former graduate student for manipulating figures.
The paper tries to explain how Epstein-Barr virus blocks the immune system’s attempts to destroy it. According to the notice, the three “nonexperimentalist authors” – identified in the paper as two P.I.’s from University of Texas at Austin and one from the University of California, San Francisco – didn’t know the figures “were not reflective of original Northern blot and immunoblot data.”
That leaves UT Austin PhD student Jennifer Cox under the bus. Her LinkedIn says she pursued a PhD from 2010-2015, though it’s unclear if she’s received a degree. Cox’s name is at the top of P.I. Christopher Sullivan’s list of past lab members, and she’s the only one on the page whose name doesn’t hyperlink to additional information, such as a contact.
The authors of a 2007 PNAS paper that provided molecular details for how calorie restriction may act on Sir2 enzymes to extend life are now retracting their research after discovering a figure was compromised by “several unintentional anomalies in the background image.”