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Article retracted by Nobel Prize winner

Frances Arnold, a researcher at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and winner of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work on the evolution of enzymes, announced on Twitter that her group was retracting a scientific article published last year in the journal Science. “For my first work-related tweet of 2020, I am totally bummed to announce that we have retracted last year’s paper on enzymatic synthesis of beta-lactams,” she wrote. “It is painful to admit, but important to do so. I apologize to all. I was a bit busy when this was submitted, and did not do my job well.”

The paper, which has no direct link to the Nobel-winning research, suggested that enzymes found in E. coli bacteria could be forced to evolve in a way that enables precise control over where their chemical reactions occur. Attempts to reproduce the experiment, however, found that the enzymes do not catalyze reactions with the activities and selectivity described in the article. Arnold is not the first Nobel laureate to have her work retracted. Linda Buck, Jack Szostak, Bruce Beutler, and Michael Rosbash, winners of the Medicine award in 2004, 2009, 2011, and 2017 respectively, have also had articles retracted.