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Duke cancer paper retraction pending

11/09/2010
Julie Manoharan

Two clinical trials under way at Duke University are based on a single paper that suggests a potential cancer treatment. Now, one author is attempting to retract that paper.

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A Duke University researcher has asked the Journal of Clinical Oncology to retract a 2007 paper that he co-authored. Currently, two clinical trials are being conducted at Duke based on the paper’s findings, but the published results cannot be replicated using the original data.

Joe Nevins, director of the IGSP Center for Applied Genomics and Technology at the Duke Institute for Sciences and Technology, has asked to retract the paper “Pharmacogenomic strategies provide a rational approach to the treatment of cisplatin-resistant patients with advanced cancer,” which was published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) on 1 Oct. 2007. The paper outlined new methods to incorporate genomic analysis to predict a patients’ response to cisplatin, a chemotherapy drug used to treat a variety of cancers. By predicting a patients’ reactions to various drugs, doctors would be able to better personalize a cancer patient’s treatment.

Anil Potti's group published findings that are not replicable, according to a contributing author. Clinical trials based on the findings have been suspended indefinitely. Source: InsideDukeMedicine.org

“The authors have been unable to reproduce the experiments using the original data sets,” said Doug Stokke, associate vice president of media relations for Duke Medicine, in a press statement. “Therefore, the data in the paper don’t support the conclusions that were reported.”

The paper’s research was conducted in the laboratory of Anil Potti, a Duke researcher who has been suspended because of a ongoing investigation into the validity of his professional credentials. On numerous occasions, including on a successful American Cancer Society grant application, Potti falsely claimed to have been awarded a Rhodes Scholarship along with a number of other prestigious awards. In addition to this investigation, Potti’s research has a matter of some concern for his former collaborator Nevins and the university.

Although Stokke did not comment on the status of the clinical trails, which involved 111 lung and breast cancer patients who were being treated based on the findings of the 2007 JOC paper. Last year, after the initial allegations about Potti and his research were made, the studies were temporarily suspended for a brief period of time. The trials were suspended indefinitely only after a more thorough investigation this past fall.

The university is continuing to scrutinize other works published by Potti’s group that were based on the original data sets. Potti and Nevins could not be reached for comment on this announcement.

The paper, ““Pharmacogenomic strategies provide a rational approach to the treatment of cisplatin-resistant patients with advanced cancer,” was publishing 1 Oct. 2007 in the JCO.