Friday, December 22, 2006

Further retractions of papers published in the journal Science

Further to the retraction by Science of papers by Hwang Woo Suk (and retractions by other related people), there have been further retractions of Science papers.

The San Diego UNION-TRIBUNE reported on Dec. 22:

A biologist at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla today retracted three papers published in the journal Science, a step he said was needed to correct a misinterpretation of data.

Geoffrey Chang's retractions appear in the print edition of Science. In addition, he is working to retract two papers published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and the Journal of Molecular Biology.


The protein molecule Chang studies is called MsbA. It carries lipids, the fat molecules where most drugs congregate, out of cells. By doing so, MsbA reduces the amount of a drug that collects inside a cell's walls.

This may be why some forms of bacteria and cancer become resistant to drug treatments.

Once scientists outline the structure of MsbA and how it changes its shape as it ejects lipid molecules, they can try to design drugs to disable it.

The expected result would be that more of a drug stays in the cell, whether it's a bacterial cell causing an infection or a rapidly reproducing cancer cell.

A computer program error caused Chang to misinterpret the shape of the molecule so that resulting images were inverted.


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