University finds falsified data in PNAS gene therapy paper, authors retract

A university investigation has found falsified data in a 2011 paper about the side effects of a virus commonly used in gene therapy.

The authors are retracting the paper, but one co-author told Retraction Watch they stand by their main conclusions. According to Roland Herzog, a professor at the University of Florida (UF) College of Medicine and a co-author of the paper, the falsified data were related to a minor part of the paper.

The paper, “Activation of the NF-κB pathway by adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors and its implications in immune response and gene therapy,” was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in March 2011. All authors were affiliated with UF at the time; the handling editor, Kenneth Berns, is an emeritus professor at UF. The paper has been cited 50 times, according to Clarivate Analytics’ Web of Science. Continue reading University finds falsified data in PNAS gene therapy paper, authors retract

Caught Our Notice: A retraction that is “useful for investigators”

Via Wikimedia

Title:  Yeast CAF-1 assembles histone (H3-H4) 2 tetramers prior to DNA deposition

What Caught Our Attention: Informative retraction notices can be infrequent, but rarer still are notices that fulfill an oft-ignored function: To be a source of learning for others in the field. Here, the authors offer a nearly 800-word “detailed description of the issues” with “some observations that may be useful for investigators conducting similar studies.” These authors embraced the retraction process, carefully explaining their findings or the lack thereof, for each figure from their now-retracted paper.     Continue reading Caught Our Notice: A retraction that is “useful for investigators”

Caught Our Notice: Don’t count your chicken (genes) before they’re hatched

Via Wikimedia

Title: Molecular Characterization and Biological Activity of Interferon-α in Indian Peafowl (Pavo cristatus)

What Caught Our Attention: Soon after the paper appeared, the journal was alerted to the fact its findings were at odds with others in the field. When the editor approached the authors, everything fell apart: The authors couldn’t repeat the experiments, and “were also unsure of the molecular probes that were used in the study.” While it isn’t unusual to have doubts about data — since since research is a process of experimentation — it is odd not to know how your experiment was conducted. The paper was retracted less than two months after it was published. The manuscript was accepted two months after it was submitted in early May, theoretically giving reviewers enough time to catch these issues (along with the authors’ failure to cite relevant papers).  

Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Don’t count your chicken (genes) before they’re hatched

Researchers ask to retract cancer paper five days after it’s flagged by journal

Researchers from the University of Kansas asked to retract their paper only days after the journal issued an expression of concern related to some of the images.

The retraction notice marks the close of an episode that started in June, but it doesn’t provide much closure: Figures in the paper apparently do not match primary data, but there’s no hint as to how that happened.

In a statement sent to JCS — just five days after the expression of concern came out — last author Kristi Neufeld, a cancer biologist at KU, wrote: Continue reading Researchers ask to retract cancer paper five days after it’s flagged by journal

Caught Our Notice: Concerns about image in 2008 paper prompt editorial notice

Via Wikimedia

Title: Characterization of a novel epigenetically-silenced, growth-suppressive gene, ADAMTS9, and its association with lymph node metastases in nasopharyngeal carcinoma

What caught our attention: One year ago, a PubPeer user suggested an image from a 2008 paper looked similar to one from another paper. After the authors stated their belief in the soundness of the image, without providing the originals, the journal issued only an Expression of Concern for the paper. Some journals have issued retractions for lack of original data, some have issued corrections, and even fewer have published editorial notices. Expressions of concern usually indicate that some type of final resolution will be announced, but in reality, a significant proportion remain unresolved for years. Based on the wording of this notice, it may be around for a while. Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Concerns about image in 2008 paper prompt editorial notice

Dispute over author order torpedoes paper on syndrome linked to autism

At least one disgruntled co-author has triggered the retraction of a paper presenting a novel approach to treating a rare, genetically inherited condition.

The paper concerned research on Fragile X syndrome (FXS), characterized by both intellectual and physical abnormalities, which is linked autism. A compound that passed through phase 2 clinical trials in October 2015 appeared to partially treat FXS in mice in the study, published earlier this year.

The journal’s notice says the paper was retracted over a dispute among authors about the order in which they are listed on the paper: Continue reading Dispute over author order torpedoes paper on syndrome linked to autism

A journal printed a sharp critique of a paper it had published. If only it had checked with the authors first.

In 2016, researchers published a paper showing that an RNA molecule may be overactive in breast tumor tissue. But after reading the paper, three biologists believed the data supported the opposite conclusion.

What happened after that is a tale of misunderstandings and unnecessarily bruised feelings. We’ve seen plenty of cases where researchers ignore criticism, which at first glance seemed to be the case here. But upon closer inspection, it wasn’t. Continue reading A journal printed a sharp critique of a paper it had published. If only it had checked with the authors first.

Journal issues note of concern, tips off university’s research integrity office

A journal has published an expression of concern (EoC) for a paper on cancer genetics in mice, over a concern about data in some gel panels.

The EoC for “Suppression of intestinal tumorigenesis in Apc mutant mice upon Musashi-1 deletion,” appeared Sept. 21 in Journal of Cell Science (JCS).

With the notice, the journal says:

Continue reading Journal issues note of concern, tips off university’s research integrity office

Board member resigns from journal over handling of paper accused of plagiarism

A biologist is crying foul at a journal’s decision to correct (and not retract) a paper he claims plagiarized his work — and one of his colleagues has resigned from the journal’s editorial board as a result.

The 2016 paper, published by Scientific Reports, is an application of a previously published algorithm designed to better identify regulatory sequences in DNA. The three authors, based at the Shenzhen campus of the Harbin Institute of Technology, used the technique to identify recombination spots in DNA. They called it SVM-gkm.

On April 2, Michael Beer of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore notified the editors of Scientific Reports that he believed the paper had plagiarized his work. Despite Beer’s efforts, the journal ultimately decided to issue a correction notice, which cites “errors” and the authors’ failure to credit Beer’s work. That isn’t good enough for Beer — nor one of his colleagues at Johns Hopkins, who resigned from the journal’s editorial board saying “the recent affair with Mike Beer’s work being plagiarized did not impress me.

Continue reading Board member resigns from journal over handling of paper accused of plagiarism

Nature adds alert to heavily debated paper about gene editing

Nature has added an “editor’s note” to a high-profile August paper alerting readers to the fact that the article has been subject to criticism.

Journals often flag papers that are being debated — what’s unusual here is that the journal doesn’t label the notice as an official “Expression of Concern,” which are indexed by PubMed. Yet the Nature notice reads just like an expression of concern.

Here’s the text of the new notice, which was added October 2 (and spotted by Paul Knoepfler):

Continue reading Nature adds alert to heavily debated paper about gene editing