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Withdrawal of 2006 paper marks second retraction

Duke researchers have withdrawn a second paper authored by former cancer researcher Dr. Anil Potti.

The article, published in the journal Nature Medicine in 2006, purported to demonstrate a method of selecting cancer treatments based on a patient’s genomic information. It was titled “Genomic signatures to guide the use of chemotherapeutics” and has been cited 344 times, according to Google Scholar.

However, Duke scientists reviewing Potti’s work found that some of the paper’s results could not be replicated.

“We wish to retract this article because we have been unable to reproduce certain crucial experiments showing validation of signatures for predicting response to chemotherapies,” the paper’s authors wrote in a retraction notice posted on Nature Medicine’s website Friday.

Dr. Joseph Nevins, a co-author of the paper and Potti’s mentor at the Institute for Genome Sciences and Policy, requested the retraction in November. He reviewed the research along with William Barry, an assistant professor in the department of biostatistics and bioinformatics.

In mid-November, the Journal of Clinical Oncology retracted a paper based on Potti’s research after Nevins found that the results could not be reproduced.

Potti resigned from IGSP and the School of Medicine Nov. 19. At the time, he was under investigation for research misconduct. He also faced University sanctions for providing false information on several resumes.

When Potti stepped down, he took responsibility for the problems with his research.

“[Potti] accepted full responsibility for a series of anomalies in data handling, analysis and management that have come under scrutiny in the past months,” IGSP Director Huntington Willard wrote in a Nov. 19 e-mail to IGSP staff announcing Potti’s resignation.

Problems in Potti’s research may also lead to the retraction of a third paper based on his research.

In a Tuesday interview, Willard said IGSP researchers are currently reviewing a 2006 article Potti co-authored in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “A genomic strategy to refine prognosis in early-stage non-small-cell lung cancer.” He said it is too soon to say whether that paper will also need to be withdrawn.


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