Seven papers from a prominent Indian immunologist have been retracted because of image manipulation over the past month. The papers report on findings from his research on cancer cell molecular biology.
At the CDFD, Manna’s research focused on cell signaling and cell death in cancer, specifically the process of apoptosis. Manna’s 50 publications have garnered 1066 citations to date, according to Microsoft Academic Search. In July 2012, Manna was offered a professorship at the newly established Presidency University in Kolkata, but declined the appointment because of a lack of research infrastructure, according to the Kolkata-based newspaper The Statesman.
But last year, problems with his published research began to surface. In August 2012, Manna published an Erratum (1) that corrected the image and caption of a figure from a paper published in the Journal of Cellular Biochemistry (JBC) in 2009 (2).
Then in September 2012, The Times of India reported that Manna was accused of research misconduct by a Japanese scientist whose work Manna reportedly plagiarized in a paper published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC). As a result, the CDFD temporary suspended Manna and launched an investigation into his work.
"We have constituted a committee of senior scientists who are investigating this issue and have started communicating with the all the parties concerned with it,” CDFD director J Gowrishankar said at the time. “They would be giving out a final report in about two months’ time and based upon that we will decide if action needs to be taken or not against the scientist."
Last month, two papers by Manna were retracted because of unattributable, inappropriate, or duplicated images. Those papers were published in Cell Death and Differentiation and the Journal of Medical Chemistry (3-4), as first reported by Retraction Watch on March 4.
On March 22, three of Manna’s articles that were published in the JCB between 2010 and 2011 were retracted, having been withdrawn by the authors according to the retraction notices (5-7).
Then, on March 24, a sixth paper authored by Manna and published in Breast Cancer Research Treatment in 2010 was also retracted because of manipulated figures (8). This was after Manna actually submitted a corrected image for the paper in 2010 (9).
Finally, the latest retraction came on April 4 for a paper originally published in the Journal of Clinical Immunology (JCI) in 2006 (10). In that article, Manna and colleagues reported that the anti-cancer treatment oleandrin induced cell death in tumor cells but not primary cells in the surrounding tissue. The paper has been cited 31 times, according to Google Scholar. But according to the retraction notice (11), the CDFD requested that the article be retracted because it contained manipulated figures.
Previously, Manna worked with cancer research Bharat Aggarwal’s group at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas—Aggarwal is also under investigation for research misconduct by his institution, according to Retraction Watch.
Neither Manna nor the CDFD have responded to requests for comments.
Update, 4/8/2013: Robert Kiss, a researcher at the Free University of Brussels who is familiar with Manna's JCI paper, doesn't believe that its retraction will affect researchers much. In an email to BioTechniques, he said, "I do not think that the retraction of this paper will actually impact the field because numerous studies already demonstrated cardiotonic steroid-mediated Fas-induced apoptosis in cancer cells."
1. Gangadharan, C., M. Thoh, and S. K. Manna. 2012. Erratum: Inhibition of constitutive activity of nuclear transcription factor kappaB sensitizes doxorubicin-resistant cells to apoptosis. J. Cell. Biochem. 113(10):3299.
2. Gangadharan, C., M. Thoh, and S. K. Manna. 2009. Inhibition of constitutive activity of nuclear transcription factor kappaB sensitizes doxorubicin-resistant cells to apoptosis. J. Cell. Biochem. 107(2):203-213.
3. Manna, S. K., P. Manna, and A. Sarkar. 2013. Retraction: Inhibition of RelA phosphorylation sensitizes chemotherapeutic agents-mediated apoptosis in constitutive NF-kappaB-expressing and chemoresistant cells. Cell Death Differ. 2013 Mar 1. doi: 10.1038/cdd.2013.18. [Epub ahead of print].
4. Bose, J. S., V. Gangan, R. Prakash, S. K. Jain, and S. K. Manna. 2013. Retraction: A dihydrobenzofuran lignan induces cell death by modulating mitochondrial pathway and G2/M cell cycle arrest. J. Med. Chem. 56(4):1787.
5.Thoh, M., B. Babajan, P. B. Raghavendra, C. Sureshkumar, and S. K. Manna. 2013. Azadirachtin interacts with retinoic acid receptors and inhibits retinoic acid-mediated biological responses. J Biol Chem. 288(12):8563.
6. Manna, S. K., C. Gangadharan, D. Edupalli, N. Raviprakash, T. Navneetha, S. Mahali, and M. Thoh. 2013. Ras puts the brake on doxorubicin-mediated cell death in p53-expressing cells. J Biol Chem. 288(12):8562.
7. Thoh, M., P. Kumar, H. A. Nagarajaram, and S. K. Manna. 2013. Azadirachtin interacts with the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) binding domain of its receptors and inhibits TNF-induced biological responses. J Biol Chem. 288(12):8561.
8. Gangadharan, C., M. Thoh, and S. Manna. 2013. Retraction note: Late phase activation of nuclear transcription factor kappaB by doxorubicin is mediated by interleukin-8 and induction of apoptosis via FasL. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2013 Mar 24. [Epub ahead of print]
9. Gangadharan, C., M. Thoh, and S. Manna. 2012. Erratum to: RETRACTED ARTICLE: Late phase activation of nuclear transcription factor kappaB by doxorubicin is mediated by interleukin-8 and induction of apoptosis via FasL. Breast Cancer Res Treat. 136(2):625.
10. Sreenivasan, Y., P. Raghavendra, and S. Manna. 2013. Retraction note: Oleandrin-Mediated expression of fas potentiates apoptosis in tumor cells. Journal of Clinical Immunology 1.
11. Sreenivasan, Y., P. B. Raghavendra, and S. K. Manna. 2006. Oleandrin-mediated expression of fas potentiates apoptosis in tumor cells. Journal of Clinical Immunology 26(4):308-322.