Fourth paper retracted at Potti’s request

A fourth scientific paper by controversial former Duke cancer researcher Anil Potti was retracted Wednesday.

The work, titled “A Genomic Strategy to Refine Prognosis in Early-Stage Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer,” was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in August 2006. The research, which has been cited in numerous other publications, studied pairing an appropriate chemotherapy treatment with lung cancer patients based on their genetic profile. A previous correction to the paper ran in January 2007.

NEJM published a letter to the editor requesting the retraction that had been signed by a number of Duke researchers, including Dr. Potti and Dr. Joseph Nevins, Potti’s mentor and Barbara Levine Professor of Breast Cancer Genomics.

“Using a sample set from a study by the American College of Surgeons Oncology Group and a collection of samples from a study by the Cancer and Leukemia Group B, we have tried and failed to reproduce results supporting the validation of the lung metagene model described in the article,” the article’s authors wrote. “We deeply regret the effect of this action on the work of other investigators.”

This particular retraction was somewhat unexpected. Just over a month ago, a NEJM spokesman told Retraction Watch that the journal did not have any plans to pull the paper. Retraction Watch tracks recalls of scientific research and is run by Ivan Oransky, the executive editor of Reuters Health, and Adam Marcus, managing editor of Anesthesiology News.

Potti resigned from Duke Nov. 19 following allegations that he falsified his qualifications on documents including applications for federal funding. In a review of his credentials led by Provost Peter Lange and completed in August, Duke identified “issues of substantial concern” and placed the researcher on administrative leave.


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