The journal Science took an unusual step yesterday and retracted a paper without the full consent of the authors, stating that it had lost confidence in the conclusions. The retraction notice signed by Science Editor in Chief, Bruce Alberts, stated that the authors could not come to agreement on the wording. “It is Science’s opinion that a retraction signed by all the authors is unlikely to be forthcoming,” he wrote in the notice.
The retracted study had suggested a link between a virus called XMRV and chronic fatigue syndrome. However, after repeated attempts neither the original lab nor other researchers were able to reproduce the results. And after a new Science study was published in September further discrediting the results, the authors of the original paper issued a partial retraction of their work because DNA plasmids they used were contaminated with XMRV.
In addition, the lead author of the original paper, Judy Mikovits, was recently sued by her former employer for taking the her lab notebooks and other property of the Whittemore Peterson Institute for Neuro-Immune Disease in Reno with her after being fired. She was subsequently arrested and lost the first round of court cases against her.
“We regret the time and resources that the scientific community has devoted to unsuccessful attempts to replicate these results,” Alberts concluded in the retraction notice.