Retracted, a fake scientific study

Science is trial and error. Articles on science made by scientists are continually being sent to journals, with graphs and data to inform their postulates to study. A study may end with a series of conclusions that are not true. It is at that time, when the global community of scientists, they speak of serious doubts that this work is accurate and adequate. And finally that study is retracted.

The data is fact-based, if those facts have a false starting premise, the data will be misunderstood. It may also happen that authors have a conflict of interest, talk about a topic but somehow their judgment is affected because they want to favor a company that is interested in bringing its conclusions closer to them. The figure of the retracted article arises at that time.

It’s very difficult to get a scientific paper published in reputable scientific journals. The work for them to publish it is hours and hours of work, not only the work itself, but the one you send it, the makeup and the magazine with a group of experts, value that work and then publish it.

What is a retracted article

We are used every day to listen to people who apologize for something they have done or said. In journalism there is the figure of the demented. To deny is to argue or prove that a saying or fact is false or unfounded. In science the word retract is used which is to rectify what had been affirmed, to decipher from it.

When a retraction applies to academic or academic publications, it indicates that an article was removed from the publication in which it appeared after publication. A retraction is issued through a decision made by the publication’s editorial committee.

Ground zero for retracted items

Perhaps the biggest scientific fraud of the 20th century was an article published in The Lancet that linked the triple viral vaccine to autism in children. It was published in 1998 and was titled Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. This article, the authors of  which were Andrew Wakefield  and 11 other researchers, claimed to link the triple viral vaccine to colitis and autism spectrum disorders. The fraud was exposed in an extensive  Sunday Times investigation  by reporter  Brian Deer,  which resulted in the newspaper’s retraction in February 2010.

This investigation was exposed due to Mr Wakefield’s enormous errors and unsus professionalism. He abused the 12 intellectually disabled children he worked with for his methods. No ethics committee approved his work, although it was stated otherwise. It was funded by institutions that were against vaccines. And finally, let alone severe, children did not suffer from any serious bowel disease.

Following the trial of the Uk General Medical Council’s Practice Aptitude Panel on 28 January 2010, it became clear that several elements of Wakefield et al’s 1998 document are incorrect, contrary to the conclusions of an earlier investigation. The article was therefore retracted. In particular, it was demonstrated that the statements in the original document that the children were “referred consecutively” and that the investigations were “approved” by the local ethics committee are false. Therefore, this article was completely retracted from the published record.

The most retracted items until 2020

According to the retractionwatch website these are the 10 articles retracted with my quotes:

ArtícleYear of retractionArticles quoted before retractionArticles cited after retractionTotal cites
1. Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease with a Mediterranean Diet. N ENGL J MED; APR 2013. Estruch R, Ros E, Salas-Salvado J, Covas MI, Corella, D, Aros F, Gomez-Gracia E, Ruiz-Gutiérrez V, Fiol M, Lapetra J, Lamuela-Raventos RM, Serra-Majem L, Pinto X, Basora J, Munoz MA, Sorli JV, Martinez JA, Martinez-Gonzalez MA, et al., for the PREDIMED Study Investigators201819106272537
2. Ileal-lymphoid-nodular hyperplasia, non-specific colitis, and pervasive developmental disorder in children. LANCET; FEB 28 1998. Wakefield AJ, Murch SH, Anthony A, Linnell J, Casson DM, Malik M, Berelowitz M, Dhillon AP, Thomson MA, Harvey P, Valentine A, Davies SE, Walker-Smith JA20106427801422
3. Visfatin: A protein secreted by visceral fat that mimics the effects of insulin. SCIENCE; JAN 2005. Fukuhara A, Matsuda M, Nishizawa M, Segawa K, Tanaka M, Kishimoto K, Matsuki Y, Murakami M, Ichisaka T, Murakami H, Watanabe E, Takagi T, Akiyoshi M, Ohtsubo T, Kihara S, Yamashita S, Makishima M, Funahashi T, Yamanaka S, Hiramatsu R, Matsuzawa Y, Shimomura I.200723211461378
4. An enhanced transient expression system in plants based on suppression of gene silencing by the p19 protein of tomato bushy stunt virus. PLANT J; MAR 2003. Voinnet O, Rivas S, Mestre P, Baulcombe D.20158953311226
5. Lysyl oxidase is essential for hypoxia-induced metastasis. NATURE; APR 2006. Erler JT, Bennewith KL, Nicolau M, Dornhöfer N, Kong C, Le QT, Chi JT, Jeffrey SS, Giaccia AJ.2020970361006
6. TREEFINDER: a powerful graphical analysis environment for molecular phylogenetics. BMC EVOL BIOL; JUN 2004. Jobb G, von Haeseler A, Strimmer K.2015836154990
7. Cardiac stem cells in patients with ischaemic cardiomyopathy (SCIPIO): initial results of a randomised phase 1 trial. LANCET, NOV 2011. Bolli R, Chugh AR, D’Amario D, Loughran JH, Stoddard MF, Ikram S, Beache GM, Wagner SG, Leri A, Hosoda T, Sanada F, Elmore JB, Goichberg P, Cappetta D, Solankhi NK, Fahsah I, Rokosh DG, Slaughter MS, Kajstura J, Anversa P.201990755962
8. Purification and ex vivo expansion of postnatal human marrow mesodermal progenitor cells. BLOOD; NOV 2001. Reyes M, Lund T, Lenvik T, Aguiar D, Koodie L, Verfaillie CM.2009596303899
9. Viral pathogenicity determinants are suppressors of transgene silencing in Nicotiana benthamiana. EMBO J; NOV 1998. Brigneti G, Voinnet O, Li WX, Ji LH, Ding SW, Baulcombe DC201578465849
10. Spontaneous human adult stem cell transformation. CANCER RES; APR 2005. Rubio D, Garcia-Castro J, Martín MC, de la Fuente R, Cigudosa JC, Lloyd AC, Bernad A.2010326442768

Examples of retracted article

Here are two more examples of a retracted item. The first is a Spanish researcher. A biologist, Susana González, who worked with stem cells who recently lost her job and a considerable grant, because several data are not entirely correct in her work. The second one is an exampleo of Conflict of interest.

Duplicate figures and not providing raw data

Nature Communications  has retracted  two of its previous work,citing duplicate figures and lack of raw data that could not provide them to confirm the conclusions it had reached. Nor could he provide laboratory notes for any of the experiments depicted in the figures. Another Cell  Cycle magazine  has also retracted  a 2012 work in which she was co-author.

Conflict of interest

In the midst of a covid-19 disease pandemic, an article revealed that smokers had a protective factor against covid-19 disease. The title was  Characteristics and risk factors for COVID-19 diagnosis and adverse outcomes in Mexico: an analysis of 89,756 laboratory–confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The article was originally published as a “preview” in the European Respiratory Journal on 30 July 2020. Subsequently, and prior to the publication of the version of the registry in a issue of the European Respiratory Journal, it was noted to the attention of the editors that two of the authors had not disclosed possible conflicts of interest at the time of the presentation of the manuscript: that is, one of the authors (José M. Mier) at the time had a current and continuous role in providing consulting to the tobacco industry on tobacco damage reduction; and another (Konstantinos Poulas) at the time was principal investigator of the Greek NGO NOSMOKE, which is based at Patras Science Park, a center of science and innovation that has received funding from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World (an organization funded by the tobacco industry).

This conflict of interest was sufficient for the European medical journal to retract this article. The work itself was not discussed, but since several researchers had obvious conflicts of interest since to some extent they worked for the tobacco industry, it was decided to withdraw this article.


Leave a Reply