Researchers have retracted a biology paper that included an image mismatch — despite the fact that, as they claim, another image in the same paper confirms the original findings.
The authors say they plan to resubmit the paper with the corrected figure panel.
The second to last author — Carlo Croce, chair of the department of cancer biology and genetics at The Ohio State University — told us he believes there’s more to the retraction than what the notice says. Specifically, he said that the paper includes an image from a previous paper by the same authors, which he called “fraud.”
Here’s the latest retraction notice, published in Cell Death and Differentiation:
The Editors have agreed to retract the above article in Cell Death and Differentiation (2010) 17, 1908–1916, due to the use of a mismatched image in control lanes of Figure 2c However, the authors wish to note that the results reported in Figure 2c have been reported and confirmed in Figure 2f of the same manuscript. The authors are convinced of the reproducibility of the data presented, which will be resubmitted for publication using the correct panel for Figure 2c. The authors apologize to the scientific community for any inconveniences caused.
The 2010 paper, “c-FLIPL enhances anti-apoptotic Akt functions by modulation of Gsk3β activity,” has been cited 14 times.
The paper has been discussed on PubPeer, with one user suggesting the figure panel in question — 2c —resembles another figure panel in a 2008 paper by some of the same authors.
That’s the main problem with the paper, Croce told us:
After the senior author informed the other authors including me of the problem, I looked at the paper in [Cell Death & Differentiation] and the previous paper in Plos One. There is no doubt that a piece of a figure of the Plos One paper ended up in a figure of the CDD paper. I would call it fraud!!
The newly retracted paper and the 2008 PLOS ONE paper — “Akt Regulates Drug-Induced Cell Death through Bcl-w Downregulation” — share a same first author, Cristina Quintavalle, also listed at ‘Federico II’ University of Naples in Italy. According to her ResearchGate profile, she is now based at Universitätsspital Basel. We were unable to find contact information for Quintavalle.
We’ve contacted the last author on both papers, Gerolama Condorelli — also of ‘Federico II’ University of Naples in Italy — for more information.
This isn’t Croce’s first retraction we’ve covered — last year, he asked a Nature journal to retract a News & Views he wrote, claiming the publisher tried to censor him by asking to remove passages that criticized another journal. He’s also co-authored multiple papers with Alfredo Fusco, a cancer researcher in Italy who has nine retractions under his belt. Fusco is undergoing a criminal investigation for scientific misconduct.
Several papers by Croce and Fusco are being questioned on PubPeer.
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