A retraction from a high-profile group uncovered a technical limitation involving a widely used reagent.
Some quick background: the sequence hypothesis
central hypothesis dogma of biology states that DNA gets transcribed to RNA that gets translated into proteins. Some RNAs, however, don’t code for proteins, but instead help to regulate gene expression. These microRNAs are tiny in size, but can regulate gene expression across animal and plant kingdoms.
In September 2011, the Molecular Cell published an entire issue with regulatory RNA as its theme. V. Narry Kim, associate professor at Seoul National University and high-profile microRNA researcher contributed a study that her group has now retracted just months later on June 29.
The problem? A reagent used to purify miRNAs favors some miRNAs and fails to isolate those
rich low in guanine and cytosine — two of the four building blocks of RNA — or those with few secondary folding structures.
Anil Potti and his colleagues have retracted another paper, “Characterizing the Clinical Relevance of an Embryonic Stem Cell Phenotype in Lung Adenocarcinoma,” originally published in the December 15, 2009, issue of Clinical Cancer Research.
According to the notice: Continue reading Tenth Potti retraction appears, in Clinical Cancer Research
What do you do when it turns out the materials you used in your successful experiment weren’t actually the materials you thought they were?
If you’re Peter Zammit, of King’s College London, and colleagues, you retract a 2008 paper in the Journal of Cell Science. Here’s the notice, for “B-catenin promotes self-renewal of skeletal-muscle satellite cells:” Continue reading Authors retract Journal of Cell Science study after realizing they were using the wrong gene constructs
When is a retraction not a retraction? Why, when it’s a correction, of course — like the one the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases issued this month:
In the article Reassortment of Ancient Neuraminidase and Recent Hemagglutinin in Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Virus (P. Bhoumik, A.L. Hughes), errors were made in selection of the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) sequences for the initial and subsequent data sets. As a result, the authors incorrectly concluded that the NA gene of the pandemic (H1N1) 2009 virus is of a more ancient lineage than the HA. Other researchers (and the authors) have not been able to reproduce the findings when using HA and NA matched pairs from viruses chosen on the basis of geography and time and correctly have pointed out errors in the data set that make the original conclusions invalid.
In other words, 1) the article was based largely on an error and 2) the central point could not be reproduced, two flaws that, at least in our book, usually constitute grounds for retraction.
The paper was written by Priyasma Bhoumik and Austin Hughes. Bhoumik, now a post-doc at Harvard, at the time was a PhD student at the University of South Carolina, where Hughes is a senior faculty member. Funding for the work came to Hughes from the National Institutes of Health, according to the original article.
We spoke with Hughes, who said that in this case, correction versus retraction is a distinction without a difference: Continue reading Retraction (in all but name) of flu paper raises eyebrows
The quote in the title of this post is a potential Onion headline that didn’t make it into print. It was part of an episode of This American Life that aired last week, and it seemed apropos, even though the subject here is superconductors rather than biology.
After all, we’ve written about a retraction that resulted from ordering the wrong mice. Today, we bring you the tale of a retraction caused by a mislabeled bottle. According to a retraction notice that appeared online last month in Physical Review B: Continue reading “Biologist realizes he’s been studying Cadbury egg”: Mislabeled bottle leads to Phys Rev B retraction